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 333.

    Does buying an app for a tablet count as an IT skill?

  • rate this

    Comment number 332.


    Same here, i've worked with far too many over qualified idiots over the years.

    The big reason employers go for certs, is for insurance reasons.

  • rate this

    Comment number 331.

    This is aiming at the wrong target. The biggest barriers to career chances are the inability to speak properly, write good English and do simple arithmetic. Unless young people get this right, IT skills won't help them, and we need to get that message through. I suspect that many IT-savvy kids are neglecting those basics and I wonder if some schools are too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 330.

    Or 9 out of 10 students make good use of the ICT skills learnt at school the rest couldn't be bothered, but they want free handouts now as reality has sunk in. However, the 9 out of 10 who did bother are wondering why they should fund them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    Then what the hell ARE they teaching in school?
    The amount of money that has gone into IT in schools in the last 25 yrs (yes 25!) is astronomical.
    What are youngsters doing in IT lessons (all subjects use IT).....that is NOT RELEVANT TO BUSINESS?

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    @323: "I find most IT employers are very reluctant to take on anyone that doesn't have a list of industry certs as long as your arm and umpteen years industry experience."

    I pay no attention to programming certs. For the most part worthless -- as is proved time and time again during technical interviews. Certs show you can pass an exam but rarely do they demonstrate understanding.

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    Are these the same kids who also can't read or write or do basic arithmetic either?

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    #318. Megan #317. cyberdoyle

    STEM is more than using bought in fibre optic stuff and PC hardware.

    It should be about understanding why.
    To the n'th degree.
    Putting numbers to things.
    Only that way will you truly understand things.
    What makes them tick.
    Why the designers did it that way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 325.

    The combination of and iPads to learn IT skills is hilarious.

    Sounds like another BBC advertisement to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    my daughter got an ICT certificate two years ago when she picked up her leaving certificates - she didnt do ICT !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 323.

    I graduated with a 2:1 IT degree two years ago and have struggled to find a decent job in the IT industry.

    I'm currently working in IT support earning just £20k a year, and struggling to survive living in the South East. I find most IT employers are very reluctant to take on anyone that doesn't have a list of industry certs as long as your arm and umpteen years industry experience.

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    311 Steve
    Being a former It guy and now started to teach you'll find that most kids in school save the very bright ones are complacent and uninterested in learning more there needs to be streaming done most kids are disruptive.The amount of teaching of programming in schools is only just beginning.Teaching in an interesting way Hmm try teaching most of the time you doing crowd control irrespective

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.

    A vast amount of money was spent on equipping these kids schools with IT, if they couldn't be bothered to make good use of it or engage with their lessons then that is there fault. Stop blaming teachers and schools for every bone idle waster that made everyone else's life a misery at school. We all had to suffer you why should you get even more funding now? Those who did try don't get free handout

  • rate this

    Comment number 320.


    DITTO, I did the half GSCE IT and learned more from my brother at home tinkering on than my IT teacher. Funnily enough my mate (who works for BT) who has tons of IT quals rang me up a few months ago asking me how to format a hard drive. I was just stunned. (he's also asked me how to install an extra RAM as well). I am no expert but even a 13 year old can manage these processes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 319.

    @313: "It might be Entrepreneurship skills they require more now"

    You need technical skills to get a product developed. We have a dire shortage of such skills. The numpties on The Apprentice are considered entrepreneurs by the media, when in reality the only skills they possess are a loud mouth and a strong sense of self importance. The recent Sugared "overpaid lackey" says it all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 318.

    So why is it so hard for me, a senior computer professional and teacher, to find a job so that all these youngsters can be taught to use computers?

  • rate this

    Comment number 317. New apprentice fuses his 1st fibre tray for #B4RN - if you give youngsters the opportunity some will take it, as this link shows.

  • rate this

    Comment number 316.

    I learned more in a day at work than 6 years of doing ICT at school (Th higher levels as well) I got 5 GCSE's and didn't even know what an IP address was or the basic structure of PC architecture.

  • rate this

    Comment number 315.

    What have IT skills got to do with STEM?

    That is like suggesting browsing a catalogue makes you a good gardener.

  • rate this

    Comment number 314.

    Even if the kids have good IT skills, lot's of companies will send the work offshore, or bring in cheap Indian labour to do the job.


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