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

Related Stories

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.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    When will everyone stop blaming the Government or anyone else for their own issues? We do not need a left wing or a right wing or a party in the centre, we need leadership, and anyone who dares to do it now is in for a torrent of abuse. "Our Dave", Millibland or, Clogged up, forget them. None of them are strong enough Remember; The world does not owe any of us a living it was here before us"!

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    A lack of work with appropriate wage IS threatening young peoples chances.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    NO "well paid JOBS!!!! can the politicians, 1% of the globally wealthy folks, with their corrupted scams and themes, combine with legal frame works that helps them to establish their bogus debates. These are the issues for local and global community, not the youth being incompetent to use a tool which was design by someone else. Repetition is not mammoth task, special for the youth of tomorrow!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    Are we fully preparing the next generation to compete in a global marketplace? IT is one area of concern, but it there an overall problem?

    It's difficult to ignore the problems many of us are facing. Do the issues stem from the failure to support more of the nation's children in reaching their full potential.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    I wish it were so simple.....
    Actually, it's because IT guys are usually highly intelligent introverted geeky types, UK managers are mostly dumb extroverted trendy types. If you want a job, you have to use big words and talk the hind legs off a donkey. The more excrement you talk, the better your chances.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Apart from the fact that continued education is required of life nowadays after leaving school, college, or, university a determined sense of self-motivation is plainly part of that continued education. I find children adept at using computer systems. What is not there is an education in the sciences from which they learn to use skills to everyones advantage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    I really don't know what they mean by IT skills here. Do they mean being able to create an Excel Spreadsheet or do they mean being able to write a script in Python or code in C++.....IT skills is too much of a wide and loose term to be used to make any sort of judgement on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    To not have the basic IT skills to fill in an on-line application or post a CV on-line requires quite a bit of determination to not learn. Well done to Will-I-am for trying to change attitudes. I wonder if we could get the TOWIE crew to admit it is not cool to be stupid too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    Why would you want to buy 2000 children an iPad? Aren't devices like iPads, iPods and games consoles part of the problem?

    In my experience, secondary-age students think that they know about ICT because they've got gadgets at home, but I find that that their internet searching and file-management skills are often woeful. Students were more engaged with ICT and more highly-skilled 10 years ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    One cause of problems was the Tory 'Local Management of Schools' initiative, now compounded by the Academies programme. Schools all over the country have ailing equipment they can't afford to service. When LEAs managed this they could do repairs with economy of scale. Schools have to choose between repairing the boiler and replacing the computer. IT professionals won't work in those conditions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    112. Theep
    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"
    Apply to be train driver Red Bob Crowe ensures you have a great salary. Trains are too expensive to use mind you :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    When they talk about lack of IT skills that affect the job prospects of kids, they are concerned with the skills required to be a computer user rather than a programmer.

    I get the impression that a lot of IT teaching in schools is aimed at programming skills which is a different area entirely.

    Are the education resources being targeted correctly?

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    @114. blagshaw

    There are plenty of jobs.

    and do you want fries with that horse burger?

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    The main thing that hits young people leaving school is the simple fact that there are few to no jobs available.

    Technology is zooming forward at an unprecedented rate.The notion that IT training will get some young person a job is lacking vision of reality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    "59. Nobody
    Therefore, as an employer, I would prefer to employ the 1 out of 10 who are humble enough to admit they know nothing and are receptive to training."

    You ought to have a medal - for actually providing IT training for your employees and giving them a chance, instead of just buying-in IT people from abroad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    #105. You_expect_me_to_believe_this

    Get off the BBC website and go and do some work

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    As many people are saying teens are getting into IT more than they did 10 years ago. However I think they are getting taught the wrong IT skills. What they should actually do is make coding a priority and be realistic about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    @108 "I don't think the young people are behind - I think they're ahead"

    Ahead at consumer user level, but ask em to solve a problem and most won't have a clue.
    The problem is that a person, armed with nothing but a few big words and the gift of the gab, can seem like a genuis to someone who know's nothing at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    "stating the youth of tomorrow can't compete, it's waste of thoughts, Most older folks... can't comprehend or do not have the capacity to understand the next generation kids thoughts wisdom what they present...Older folks are incapable to create jobs!"

    They'd certainly struggle to employ you, were that the standard of your job application!

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    I think the fact there aren't any jobs might be slightly more of a problem for our youngsters.


Page 19 of 25


More Business stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.