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 373.

    Software and service Industry has sold out to China and India where programmers earn 5k a year.

    There are plenty of very talented young programmers / creatives in the UK - like anything, if you're interested you'll do well.

    I would advise them to skip university, use their money for a short term rent on an office in London and set up on their own.

    Sod big business and earn decent money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    So true Andrew at post 125. I have had to train school leavers for a service desk many times. They can click 'like' on facebook, or watch a video on Youtube, but ask them what directory they are storing their work in and they give you blank looks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    much of the outsourcing is being brought back in house. You can't outsource architecture and design.

    True but I goes back to what I was saying earlier about Engineering there were a few people managing the designs and sending them out.. There was no training or jobs ! Don't kid yourself the fact is the IT industry in the far east is more mature now. The horse HAS BOLTED,

  • rate this

    Comment number 370.

    Employers should offer more apprenticeships and on the job training to back up what the candidates have learned in school/college. I appreciate that these are hard times and for some companies that is easier said than done.

  • rate this

    Comment number 369.

    Cannot read - cannot spell - cannot do simple arithmetic - grammar rubbish.

    Whose fault is this ? I went to a secondary modern school in the 50's and left with all of these attributes + I went to college in the evening voluntarily to improve all of these absolutely necessary skills before I left school at 15 years old. What on earth has happened since then ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 368.

    Why would you want to buy 2000 iPads to teach them IT skills? Is that a joke? A Raspberry Pi is 10 times cheaper and 10 times more useful in teaching real IT skills. An iPad could play a part but seriously, lets not waste the money. Make it count. An iPad is designed for consuming iTunes content. To teach IT skills you need a real computer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 367.

    All chidren do with computers now is to play games, videos and music. When I left the RAF in 1986 I had done a 3 year computer course, bought myself a BBC B and programmed for many friends. I then found a good new career in computing and did eveything from assembly, repair, networking to programming. Great fun.

  • rate this

    Comment number 366.

    More of a risk are the following - High house prices, and the dependance on imported food and energy! Tackle those problems alongside providing apprenticeships and the country might actually have a future. Giving cheap cash to the banksters is not a good idea!

  • Comment number 365.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 364.

    My son's ICT teacher told his class that computers were a waste of space - probably because he was actually an English teacher given the job of also teaching ICT. As far as I can tell few useful skills were taught by this teacher in 2 years. The syllabus was unambitious, barely covering core computer skills despite the school being well equipped. We reap what we sow......

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    I work in lots of secondary schools. They are overflowing with computers but kids learn nothing useful from them. They should be working on basic literacy in order to produce a CV. Computers get in the way of a decent education.

  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    being able to use an ipad makes you as much of an IT specialist as being able to drive a flappy paddle Ferrari makes you an F1 engineer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 361.

    Its not the skills we are short of its the demand. The market is saturated with people with MCSE & MCP and CCNA etc etc it doesn’t mean they are actually any good mind, just they have done the exams. Also too many employers want an expert in everything for 25k which just isn’t going to happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    Why do we need new IT programmers in the UK when someone in India will do the same thing for a tenth of the cost? What we need are more cockney actors and Royals. That's where the money should be going.

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.

    Created a UK company to do software apprenticeship schemes under the last government. We did manage to do this BUT we got NO support from the UK company and instead saw them spend millions on asking microsoft to do what we had done, something that microsoft still haven't done

  • rate this

    Comment number 358.

    Everyone deserves a second chance

    I left school when I was 15 with 5 O Grades, not everyone knows what they want to do or are suited for at that age, I didn't

    Took further education in my 20's, worked as electronic tech / engineer, skilled jobs shipped east, so got into IT as a service engineer, now a technical IT manager

    Don't write the young off, some take longer to find their niche

  • rate this

    Comment number 357.

    There's quite a bit of talk going on about the young knowing how to use an iPad etc. and how that it doesn't contribute to IT skills, but it does. Everything is going towards iPads, mobile technology, touch screen and to understand the future of IT is to not just understand how to make spreadsheets and letter heads, but to understand about the way IT is changing in the consumer market too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 356.

    Its not IT skills that they need. Its all skills including communication & basic English/Maths. I was doing interviews for some customer service positions & the quality of the candidates communication & basic maths was dreadful. We eventually decided to run Maths/English courses for the new candidates to bring them up to speed. Until they can read, write & add up they will have no chance

  • rate this

    Comment number 355.

    Just when you think it can't get any worse, you want to take money donated to improve childrens IT skills and buy them Raspberry Pi's instead....this is only going to contribute to the obesity problem if anything.

    What these kids need is a good solid Commador they can do their homework whilst the game loads

  • rate this

    Comment number 354.

    Looks like married life has had an adverse effect on William, or is it one of those computerised photo changing thingies.


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