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Telefonica Survey Says UK Has Most Digitally Literate Youngsters

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Telefonica praises UK’s tech literacy but says there is still work to be done

Young people in the UK are more tech literate than others around the world, according to a global survey of more than 12,000 young adults aged 18-30 across 27 countries by Telefonica UK (O2).

The survey said that 49 percent of 18-30 year olds in the UK believe they have an “excellent” knowledge of computing, compared to just 30 percent worldwide.

These members of the “Millennial Generation” believe that education in technology is deemed to be more important to success than any other subject, with a quarter claiming it to be more critical than economics, science or languages, while 76 percent believe that tech literacy makes it easier to get a job.

Telefonica survey

Education landscapeHowever the report also acknowledged that there was a growing gender divide, with 31 percent of young men identifying technology as key to future success, compared to just 18 percent of women. Young men were also more likely to have a positive experience with technology as 47 percent of men said it had been influential on their life compared to 23 percent of women.

“Our economy is now a digital economy and our current generation of young people will be vital to fueling its success,” said Ronan Dunne, Telefonica UK CEO. “Digital literacy is fast becoming a minimum standard in the same way as English and Maths and UK millennials are in a unique position to capitalise on the opportunities the digital economy presents.

“It’s inspiring to see that they are putting technology at the heart of their future success but we must do more to help young men and, in particular, young women realise their digital potential.”

ICT education in British schools has been criticised by a number of leading figures in technology, including Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, and a new curriculum is to be introduced in 2014, to ensure that there is no digital skills shortage.

UK digital skills

Earlier this week, Mozilla Foundation CEO Mark Surman told TechWeekEurope that although the UK was making good progress with its digital literacy efforts, schools alone would not be enough to inspire children to learn digital skills.

Dunne spoke about technology being a “fourth literacy”, after reading, writing and maths, and said that the operator was working on a number of initiatives, as well as working with Mozilla, to improve the situation in the UK and abroad.

Telefonica will offer work experience, work skills opportunities, careers advice and increase the number of apprenticeships and internships. It will also transition 5,000 young people and graduates from education into the workplace and will create 1,000 startup opportunities.

“All businesses, big and small, have a role to play, whether through offering new opportunities to young people or better showcasing existing ones through digital means including events such as Europe’s biggest technology festival, Campus Party,” said Dunn. “Hosted by Telefónica at The O2 in London, it will inspire tens of thousands of young people about the exciting opportunities a career in technology offers.”

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