The unused digital skills of unemployed young people in the UK is worth £6.7m to business – but they are reluctant to hire.

The study which polled both young people aged between 16-24 and UK businesses comes from mobile operator O2, they also found that a fifth of businesses are expecting growth to come from digital channels over the next three years.

But despite recognising this and over three quarters (77%) of businesses acknowledging that young people have the digital skills, only less than one quarter (24%) are planning to offer a first time job or an ‘on the job’ training role to a young person.

The findings also reveal a need for businesses to embrace young people and maximise the digital skills young people say they possess:

• Nine out of ten (90%) can use social media to promote an event, idea or cause
• Two-thirds of young people (66 per cent) can design a webpage
• One in five (19 per cent) can develop an app
• 13 per cent are “confident” at coding, whilst another 25% have experienced coding at some point
• 36% are confident in working with databases

O2 CEO Ronan Dunne said: “There are more than a million young people out of work. It’s a travesty that whilst businesses are crying out for digital skills, they are excluding from the workplace the very people who have them.”

“Now is the time when thousands of young people will be deciding what to do next. We want to encourage them to make the most of the fact that they have grown up in a digital world and be confident in the value of their skills to prospective employers. Businesses need to recognise the value that young people can bring – they are the future fuel of the economy and have the skills we need to help pull us out of recession.”

O2 is undertaking a number of initiatives to support young people on their journey to work:

• Increasing the number of paid apprenticeships and internships offering a broad range of experiences plus on-going mentoring and coaching
• Digital work skills days for 3,000 young people aged 16 take them through a number of activities covering engineering and digital technology
• Along with Futura Networks, Telefonica (O2 in the UK) is hosting Campus Party in Berlin between 21-26 August, where 10,000 of Europe’s most talented minds will come together to retype Europe’s source code, rebuild Europe’s digital foundations and write the plan for Europe’s digital future

Lea Pachta

Lea Pachta