Enhancing the next generation’s technology skills has the potential to “super-charge” social mobility and economic growth, according to a new report by BT and Accenture.
It reveals those with high digital skills earn an average of £10,000 more than their less technologically literate peers annually, and that 51% of young people hope to be in the most advanced bracket within five years.
If these ambitions are realised, and the skills are matched with suitable jobs, the report suggest the implied increase in salaries could add around £11bn to UK GDP by 2022.
“Giving young people the skills and confidence to thrive in the workplaces of the future is the only way to address social mobility and secure long-term prosperity,” BT Group CEO, Gavin Patterson, said.
“Without that, we risk stifling future growth and leaving people behind. But we need to move beyond talking and to acting to ensure that young people fully understand the importance of technology.”
The report identifies two categories of people with the highest digital skills, including an ‘expert’ group that can perform tasks such as advanced coding, and a ‘creative’ one which can use technology for new innovations.
It also highlights two less advanced groups that range in being able to use advanced settings in Excel, to only being able to carry out basic tasks like sending emails.
It was found that people’s socio-economic background can have a profound effect on what group they fall into, with young people in London 50% more likely to aspire to the creative or expert categories than the national average.
In addition, young people whose parents have higher levels of education are 26% more likely than those with less educated ones to see themselves as expert or creative users of technology in the next five years.
It was also found that young men receive 40% more encouragement from parents and teachers to build their tech skills than their female counterparts, and are 17% more likely to have had sufficient training at school.
“We know that technology offers tremendous opportunity for economic growth, and technology skills provide a path for individuals to personally grow and flourish,” Accenture UK and Ireland managing director, Olly Benzecry, said.
“Our task is to improve technology skills in the U.K. — and to make them available in an inclusive way so that all can benefit.”
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