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Young people's digital skills estimated at £6.7 billion, says O2 survey

Are employers overlooking young people's digital skills?

Digital skills among Britain's web-savvy young could be worth as much as £6.7 billion to the British economy, according to a recent survey of UK businesses by mobile services provider O2.

The survey suggests that highly marketable skills such as app development, web design, coding, e-marketing and social media management may be going to waste among 16-24 year olds who are currently struggling to find employment. The first generation to grow up with the internet demonstrates a wide range of digital skills. Of the 1,000 16-24 year olds surveyed, 90% claimed they knew how to use social media to promote an event, cause or idea. Two-thirds could design a webpage, while one in five was able to develop an app and a quarter had some coding experience.

The need for digital skills in today's workplace is already huge, with the study finding that companies expected 21% of their growth over the next three years to come through digital channels alone. But while many companies admitted to a lack of IT and digital skills among their staff, only half stated that they planned to spend money on digital up-skilling of their staff in the coming year.

O2 believes that tapping into the resources of the country's one million unemployed young people could be the key to giving the economy the boost it needs to get out of recession. "It's a travesty that while businesses are crying out for digital skills, they are excluding from the workplace the very people who have them," said Ronan Dunne, O2's CEO. "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."

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