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 493.

    491.Stuart Dentt

    What's more suprising is that Historical and Philosophical studies and Social Studies outranks Mathematical studies, Business and Administrative studies, Physical Sciences, Architecture and Engineering and Technology. Who would have thought?

  • rate this

    Comment number 492.

    474. Billy
    There are many, more honest, banks than those fraudulent 4. Unfortunately every time the market reveals and attempts to bankrupt them, angels from government swoop in and rescue them with bailouts - allowing them to grow in size, while the smaller more honest banks wither & die :(

    488. Eddy
    "We're entitled to whatever the law says"
    So slavery was ok then, because it was "legal" eh?

  • rate this

    Comment number 491.

    Skills shortage? Students with a computer science degree have the highest unemployment rate of all. See
    Perhaps employers are taking on Indian ICT workers at the expense of home grown British talent?
    Enough of the pro-business staus quo with our three leading parties. It's time to vote for a new one!

  • rate this

    Comment number 490.

    I'm currently just going into my a-levels and i think the issue with I.T is how it is taught and what is taught. I.T teachers in schools are under qualified and its only because i'm going to a collage that i will have well-qualified I.T teachers working there... I.T becomes boring after you spend 2 years on word and emails. My only interest comes from teaching my self programming and such at home!

  • rate this

    Comment number 489.

    486 Matthew

    Very aptly put ! There are areas where there will always be a need however these are by and large catered for. As I said before though if you have an angle and your committed you can still do programming by reading a book and trying out stuff. You have though to have a purpose or a reason to do now so most jobs have been shifted away by consultancies to the far east, they made money!

  • rate this

    Comment number 488.

    "...Education is a service, like any other. I am no more entitled to it than I am a haircut..."


    We are all entitled to whatever the law says we are. In the UK that includes education so you are wrong. Equally, you are entitled to a haircut provided it's on the recognised basis: you pay what the barber asks. If he refuses, say because you are black, you can go to court.

  • rate this

    Comment number 487.

    485 Golgotha
    To be honest most of these kids probably spent their time trying to wind up the teacher and throwing paper planes around the room. Or telling the teacher we don't like IT and dropping it.
    Of course then they won't have the basic skills !

  • rate this

    Comment number 486.

    The fact of the matter is this, there are far too many qualified persons, and there are far too many developers working on throw away products, i.e. Apps that have a very short shelf life. We live in a world that where tech is almost redundant as soon as it is shipped, yet again if our people were given more than just a MS Office lesson in schools things would be very different?

  • rate this

    Comment number 485.

    "...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!"

    Still trying to work out how access to a computer relates to C.V. writing skills and how not having access to a computer would mean that they can't prepare a decent C.V.. C.V.s must have been pretty awful before the modern computer came into being. Any ideas?

  • rate this

    Comment number 484.

    479.Jabdi Sorry I pressed early so had to wait to correct myself !
    482 JGM2
    Consensus that most students shirk away from the harder stuff it is trendy for teacher's to allow students to learn for themselves ? and in any case spend most of the time doing crowd control. There is always the minority who will do IT at University however others do not.Coursework not Exams!

  • rate this

    Comment number 483.

    There are lots of people out there who think they are IT skilled because they can sort of use some software like windows, email MS Office and surf the net. However, there are not that many people who can do original work like programming. Salaries get diminished by the over supply of the former and a lot of employers can't or won't differentiate between the different type of skills needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 482.

    Well, this is extra-ordinary. Practically every child these days has a computer and half the 18 - 21 year olds are at university and yet we're being told these graduates have no IT skills?

    Next you'll be telling me that they have no clue how to spell or do the simplest maths either yet I know for a fact that these kids are getting better and better exam results for the past 25 years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 481.

    The computers storing the information okay work with information and technology ...

    That can be as broad as you want.

  • rate this

    Comment number 480.

    Surely children and young adults should be taught how to write and spell properly before then moving on to the IT side of their skills.Too many young people are lacking in basic English and maths skills because of this digital age and providing them with free IPads achieves nothing other than neglecting those essential skills by providing access to grammar and spell checkers as well as calculators

  • rate this

    Comment number 479.

    477. never walk alone

    IT (Information Technology) is the application of computers and telecommunications equipment to store, retrieve, transmit and manipulate data.

  • rate this

    Comment number 478.


    I understand, I thought you held a view that there is no such thing as rights, although it looks like that's what I'm saying I'm not, rights do exist, they're just not concrete, that's why the apology.

  • rate this

    Comment number 477.

    473 Anglo Scot .. You have defined yourself as a user of IT systems.

    I think people refer to IT in a very broad sense but it generally used to mean you work with computers or technology!

  • rate this

    Comment number 476.

    Add to that literacy and numeracy and it becomes a tragedy. As always there will be dissenters but at the least in some part, it is the indifference and disinterest of parents that is to blame. I remember my son coming to me wanting help with his maths, being the thick one of the family the only way I could help was to attend evening classes myself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 475.

    No Mr Golgotha (472.) Mine was meant to be an appreciative comment. Limited number of characters and stuff, you know......

  • rate this

    Comment number 474.

    At least in a competitive environment there are alternatives to 1 corrupt provider.
    That's true - banking has proved that beyond any doubt - there's at least 4.


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