A lack of confidence with their 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 will.i.am 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”.
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 can’t send their CV online either through a lack of skills or lack of being able to get 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.
The Prince’s Trust is launching a new 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. These students may not have access to a computer at home and often don’t have confidence with using a computer and poor basic IT skills.
The Trust is using will.i.am’s generous donation to engage these young people in science and technology while they’re still at school. These students will be given more access to IT to support them into work. The donation will also go towards helping more unemployed young people set up technology-related businesses.
Valerie Thompson from the E-Learning Foundation, which aims to provide learning technologies to children both at home and at school, said that while will.i.am’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 continued to explain “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, each school just needs to be prepared to use their discretionary powers over what to spend their budgets on.
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