Prince's Trust: Poor IT skills hurt youth job chances says he was intimidated by science at school, but is now taking a computer science course

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A lack of computer skills could be damaging the career chances of young people, a charity has warned.

More than one in 10 young people do not think their computer skills are good enough to use in the job they want, the Prince's Trust said.

The research follows a £500,000 donation by hip hop star to the Trust last year.

His donation will be used on projects to improve STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills.

"I was intimidated by science and advanced maths," said the music star, who donated his fee for appearing on BBC talent show The Voice.

"When I say, 'Hey kids, you guys should want to be scientists, technicians, engineers and mathematicians...' I say that because I too am going to school to learn computer science.

"I'm taking a computer science course, because I'm passionate about where the world's going, curious about it and I want to contribute," he told the BBC.


The Prince's Trust research was based on interviews with 1,378 British 15-to-25-year-olds, including 265 "Neets" - those not in education, employment or training.

One in 10 unemployed young people cannot send their CV online, while a quarter say they "dread" filling in online job applications, the survey found.

A tenth of Neets said they were embarrassed by their lack of computer skills, and 17% admitted they do not apply for jobs that require basic computer skills.

Start Quote

There remains a postcode lottery, with some schools providing barely more than an hour a week of computer access”

End Quote Valerie Thompson E-Learning Foundation

The research was released to mark the launch of a new Prince's Trust scheme to engage young people in schools with science and technology.

Under the scheme, staff from the Science Museum will visit Prince's Trust clubs in schools to work with young people at risk of exclusion and under-achievement.

"We work with the hardest-to-reach pupils, who may not have access to a computer at home, and often don't have basic IT skills," said Martina Milburn, the Prince's Trust chief executive.

"The Trust is using's generous donation to engage these young people in science and technology while they're still at school.

"We're also giving young people more access to IT to support them into work, and helping more unemployed young people set up technology-related businesses."

'Postcode lottery'

Valerie Thompson from the E-Learning Foundation, which aims to provide learning technologies to children both at home and at school, said that while's donation was "fantastic", there remained "a very significant challenge".

"That [donation] would buy 2,000 children an iPad, and we've got 750,000 children who can't get online at home," she told the BBC.

"This wouldn't be so bad if they had great access at school, but there remains a postcode lottery, with some schools providing barely more than an hour a week of computer access. No wonder they lack the skills to prepare a good CV!"

She added that there is money in the system which could be used to improve computer access at schools, pointing to the pupil premium, which is paid to schools to support disadvantaged pupils, rising to £1.875bn in 2013-14, or £900 per disadvantaged child.

"So the solution is there if schools are prepared to use the new discretionary powers they now have over what to spend their budgets on," she said.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    "91. Uinen84
    Unfortunately, large numbers of people today like to be thick, it's somewhat fashionable."
    "Fashionable" is a modern word for "lazy" Children from the far East are successful as they are taught not to be lazy. Education is their priority, thats why they have the jobs and our young people do not. Simple. Their manners, behaviour and general attitude is also much better. Wake up UK!

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    Funny that employers are saying poor IT skills are preventing people getting jobs - I have an HND in software engineering and 20+ years experience in IT but despite having sent out many thousands of applications in the past few years I stiil don't have a job.
    What employers are really saying is that they want to bring in many more thousands of cheap IT skills from overseas, mainly India.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    Shocking. ##who donated his fee for appearing on BBC talent show The Voice## If that really was the £500k then has the BBC learnt nothing about gross over pay of nonentities for performing on their channels? He should have been paying the BBC for free self advert air time.

    Forget silly Apple tax empire locked up ipads for children get them raspberry Pi devices they can do something with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    I'm afraid there is a bit more to proper IT than updating Facebook or playing about with your Xbox or iPhone. Youngsters may think that IT is all about syncing your tunes to 'the Cloud' and tagging pictures on social media sites. I'm afraid proper corporate IT is more complicated with networks and servers etc. If this initiative can teach anything it should be the fundamentals of real IT.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    The biggest threat to youth employment is the government constantly raising the pension age. It's time retirement was compulsory at 60. This would release loads of jobs. Then we ensure they go to our own people, not cheapo immigrants brought in on the lie that we are all lazy, uncultured and lacking skills.

    It's government policies that are preventing youth employment, nothing else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    I bet if you asked them to work on mobile-phones or IPads etc they could show us a thing or two.

    What we buy compared to what offices use is very different. I don't think the young people are behind - I think they're ahead... But I do find their acronyms annoying... Lol.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    @90 well I suppose he could've been lying but he's not one that usually makes stories up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    @12 "Teachers waste vast amounts of money buying brand name software"

    A friend of mine works IT at a school, he's bombarded with requests for iPads and £50'000 software solutions that are nothing more than a fluffy interface for basic windows features. Luckily he's got authority over the comp science grad he works with, else that school would have half a million £ worth of useless junk.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    "95. ukblahblahblacksheep
    Not everyone has access to the internet at home.
    Not everyone can afford to buy laptops and PC's.
    So it is a problem."

    Any bets they have 48" flat screen TV with surround sound at home with an Xbox, & smart phone though :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    But these people are experts using their smart phones!

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    stating the youth of tomorrow can't compete, it's waste of thoughts, Most older folks who run companies with their corrupted tax scams are so used to a typical framework or grid, can't comprehend or do not have the capacity to understand the next generation kids thoughts wisdom what they present, instead they're willing blaming the system, youth or kids. Older folks are incapable to create jobs!

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.


    sadly its always been fashionable to be thick: in school its uncool to get high marks, integrating with the in-crowd require posing as academically dim.

    Then adults have no qualms about claiming to be bad at maths in school, its like a well-earned badge.

    Long ago a movie prompted US politicians to admit being "dumb" publicly.

    Maths & English are imperative for future IT skills.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    Young people may think that they are IT literate, but having come from an IT based education (GCSE, College, Degree), when I went into my job I realised that I knew NOTHING and had to learn on the fly. What is being taught does not accurately reflect how IT is used in the work place. There is much more to IT than social media and Word. I now have skills I never dreamed of

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    Windows and MS Office knowledge is fine as long as the company you wish to work for uses them. Not every company uses Microsoft products due to the rather inflated licence costs. So exposure to alternatives in school would be helpfull, along with networking and programming in a variety of languages.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    "88. Tony Hannibal
    I'm not being funny, but Will.I.Am.? I'm sorry, but I can't take anyone seriously who wears sunglasses indoors (unless they've cataracts), uses punctuation in their names and can't keep his eyes still when trying to make an intelligent point!"

    Yep that sums it up! TH "InIT"

    Someone please tell me I'm not getting old! (I'm 31). You are old! But I am older :-) Just :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    Talk about barking up the wrong tree!

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    After 20 years in IT I can honestly say that if you want a career now your best bet is to learn to speak Indian......

    Mainstream IT was offshored years ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    As I understand it all schools have computers nowadays. They were also given to so called "disadvantaged" families by Labour. Many families then sold them. Disadvantage group are older generation, I struggle. The only problem now is whether they turn up for school taking the opportunity to learn,or even pay attenetion when there. There is also the lack of reading/writing skills which wont help

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Not everyone has access to the internet at home.

    Not everyone can afford to buy laptops and PC's.

    So it is a problem.

    Another problem is the current trend to outsource IT to the Far East... it started with Call-Centres and is now hitting software development and support.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    Many teens are quite comfortable with IT I would say about 3/4 are competent, there are few specialist ICT or Computer Science teachers.
    I am a school ICT technician and frequently am called upon to help teachers in an ICT class who do not understand what they are teaching
    We desperately need real Computer Science teachers, unfortunately many schools do not have any


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