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 353.

    Are we talking about being able to use a computer, completing work and filing it properly or are we talking about setting up systems and applications?

    It is the same thing with arithmetic and mathematics. Children these days are taught arithmetic but it is called mathematics.

    Employers need people who can do work and keep it organised. The computer is just a tool. This is not what I call IT.

  • rate this

    Comment number 352.

    "284. Get_the_Tories_Out
    the skills of the IT community and particularly those managing them is in such a desire state that I fully expect an aircraft (or such-like) to plummet out of the sky at any time.
    The cost cutting 'happy path' testing versus the former 'All Path' testing will lead to disaster but it wont be then getting killed!"

    I've just looked up "Happy Path testing". Dear God.

  • rate this

    Comment number 351.

    @140 "We desperately need more computer programming graduates in this country."

    If you look at the market at the moment, the rates for such jobs are appalling due to lack of demand and over supply. Contract rates have literally halved in recent years, there isn't the requirement!

  • rate this

    Comment number 350.

    Not every job needs advanced computing skills, so I don't think youngsters should be influenced by this kind of talk. What they need more than anything is determination, common sense, politeness, an ability to communicate, a smart appearance and an enquiring mind. With such qualities as those, they can go as far as they want, preferably in a vocational trade. No need to be a nerd.

  • rate this

    Comment number 349.

    If someone young really had a interest in IT they would of made more of a effort to actually learn more about IT, back in the late 80's I didnt do any IT at school but enrolled onto a two year Information Technology Centre, while the qualifications are now out of date it served me well in as I got older, problem today is the young have opportunities to learn (cheap IT Equipment) but dont bother.

  • rate this

    Comment number 348.

    ICT is as much a requirement for success as the 3 r's. As much as I can appreciate the point of the donation is to generate enthusiasm for technology, maybe a gift of 20,000 Raspberry Pi's to schools across the country would have been a) better value and b)generated a better return

  • rate this

    Comment number 347.

    Let's go back to education and NOT use computers in primary schools. Instead use mental arithmetic and real blackboards (after all Dr Brian Cox does!). A little English lesson: The word "it's" means "it is". The word "its" is a possessive adjective - a describing word, for example "the bird was on its nest, but it's now in flight".

  • rate this

    Comment number 346.

    Buying kids 2000 iPads isn't going to help them. Apple products are specifcally designed to be used by people with no IT skills (or financial sense). Buy them 4000 real computers instead.

  • rate this

    Comment number 345.

    Maybe after William takes his compurer science course he'll realise how important it is not to put .'s where they're not meant to be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 344.

    When I was at school 10 years ago the IT teaching was a complete disgrac,. 90% of the class knew more about the subject than the teachers and the curriculum was designed for people who had never even seen a computer before. Clearly the course had been set by someone, similar to my teachers, who didn't seem to realise that they were dealing with a group of people who grew up with them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 343.

    Back in my day we got by with a pencil, paper and an abacus. We did OK then. Maybe we need to train less students in ICT, and get them to actually use their brains?

  • rate this

    Comment number 342.

    A tablet, of which there are many varieties, (is this a scam to enrich Apple?), is a useless tool for practising IT skills (you could in theory read about them or engage in some sort of training app, what youngster is likely to do that?) Particularly when all that hard work may qualify you for a job paying less in a year than Will.I.Am. earns in half an hour in the studio? Laughable!

  • rate this

    Comment number 341.

    We desperately need more computer programming graduates in this country.
    The only problem is that programming jobs are being off-shored to places like India.

  • rate this

    Comment number 340.

    I grew up without computers and they only really became an issue when i went to uni, we had to type not write our assignments. I am totally self taught yet find myself often teaching students who grew up with IT how to do simple tasks. Just becasue i don't have a certificate in IT doesn't mean i am not skilled. Student now are too self-confident, yet their skills let them down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 339.

    As an employer in a technology based company my personal experience is how limited their IT knowledge is, and this article backs my view further.

    You do not understand IT because if you can pick up an iPad and use Apps designed to make life easy. Raspberry Pi's and bare bones computers are the way forward for education. Teach kids the language and to create their own programs

  • rate this

    Comment number 338.

    Not many jobs out there these days, but never mind, they can always get a job stacking shelves in poundland for their benefits after they have taken on a debt equal to a mortgage to attain their degree.

    A lot of people here really down on young people, it was the same when I was young, many years ago.

    Some people are just born old I guess.

    Support our children, they are our future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 337.

    In my view, brushing up on manners, social skills and human interaction will reap far more reward in the real work place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 336.

    I think employers can smell my qualification from a mile away. I never actually state what grade I received...

    I simply put: BTEC National in IT General - level 3.

    When in reality it was a 'Reward', it was a 'pass' grade and the teacher kept handing back our assignments until we finally passed regardless of understanding.

    Despite the clever tricks I use to disguise it, they always seem to know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 335.

    @334: "Hmm therein lies the problem the products are developed elsewhere cheaper and with less regulation or with more advances, how do you intend to compete?"

    As someone else commented earlier, much of the outsourcing is being brought back in house. You can't outsource architecture and design. Coding, in itself, is also prone to huge quality control issues. It's been a false economy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 334.

    319 fz1biker
    Hmm therein lies the problem the products are developed elsewhere cheaper and with less regulation or with more advances, how do you intend to compete? Computer Programming has not been taught here before, kid find it 'too hard work'.When this country had an advantage then they shipped out the jobs to the far east that should have been the time to encourage more IT instead the ir35 in


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