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British Teens ‘Being Short-Changed’ When It Comes To Digital Skills

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Two thirds of students feel that the current curriculum is not developing their digital skills for the workplace

The majority of Britain’s schoolchildren feel that they are not properly equipped with the right skills for many of the most popular and desirable digital jobs.

Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of more than 5,000 12-17 year olds surveyed by accounting firm Accenture do not believe the current curriculum is developing their digital skills for the workplace, despite major investment by the government into STEM training.

This is despite 75 percent believing that digital technologies will give them more job opportunities than they would otherwise have had, and half saying that digital will help them get their “dream job”.

Child code programmer youth © ollyy ShutterstockRise of the machines?

The changing nature of the job landscape was a worry for many of the respondents, with two thirds (67 percent) admitting that they recognise they will be competing for new roles that are being created as many businesses “go digital”.

More than half (56 percent) also agreed that the role of employees would likely shift more towards instructing machines to carry out certain tasks in the workplace.

“It’s good news that young people feel optimistic about the opportunities digital offers, but the fact that they don’t feel they are being fully equipped is worrying. After all, they are the next generation of our workforce and the future of British business is in their hands,” said Nick Millman, managing director, Accenture Digital.

“We know that jobs will look different in the future as a result of digital, and yet it seems that even the positive changes already made in classrooms and the curriculum such as the introduction of coding, still may not be enough. We need to give young people the confidence to contribute to organisations that want to become fundamentally digital.”

The report’s findings will come as a disappointment to many in the government, which has continually championed digital skills as a key focus area for education. This September saw an updated curriculum which included computer coding for the first time, and was supported by the launch of the ‘The Year of Code’ initiative in February, which looked to improve computer literacy of both teachers and students.

A study by BBC Bitesize earlier in the year also found that one in five rural families reliant on the Internet for their children’s’ education say it is being negatively impacted by slow broadband speeds that leave them unable to access essential resources.

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