These new findings indicate that businesses are in vital need of digital skills like web design, coding and social media expertise, can only be provided to them by the generation who have grown up with internet access.
The in-depth study also found that businesses expect a fifth (21%) of their growth over the next three years to come through digital channels.
This news couldn’t come at a better time especially since reports that young people seeking first time employment face the bleakest outlook since 1994.
Over three-quarters (77%) of businesses acknowledge that young people have digital skills in abundance but less than one quarter (24%) are planning to offer a first time job or an ‘on the job’ training role to a young person in the coming months. The study urges businesses to do more to make the most of the digital skills sitting unused in the youth community.
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.”
The findings also highlight a need for businesses to embrace young people and maximise the digital skills young people possess.
Nine out of ten (90%) British youths can use social media to promote an event, idea or cause. Two-thirds (66%) of young people can design a webpage, one in five (19%) can develop an app, 13% are “confident” at coding, whilst another 25% have experienced coding at some point and 36% are confident in working with databases.
“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,” said Dunne.
But the findings of this study do not only apply to the technology sector, the findings show a wide range of businesses are also in need of the digital talents of young people.
When asked to identify from a number of digital skills which they would find the most valuable: a fifth of businesses said the services of a web designer would be the most valuable, 12% value e-marketing as a key driver of growth and One in ten want to get a better handle on their customers, with customer management systems.
In light of these findings, 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
This most important thing that this study has highlighted is that we need to acknowledge, invest and encourage the vital skills that young people have to offer.