Capgemini: Learning digital skills 'first hurdle' for young people

Young people must learn basic digital skills in order to succeed in today's job market, says Capgemini's Nigel Walsh

Society's 'outliers' must learn basic digital skills, says Capgemini, in order for underprivileged youth forgotten by traditional education to find their place in today's tech-driven job market.

Capgemini recently teamed up with The Prince's Trust to launch a series of digital skills courses designed to help people aged between 13-25 who may have had trouble with school or the law. Graduates will leave the scheme with relevant STEM skills, work experience and vocational training.

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Nigel Walsh, vice president and community engagement executive sponsor at Capgemini, said: "By default we all seem to assume that the millennial generation, or the youngsters coming through now, know how to use the latest technology, they're coders by default, and that's simply so far from the truth. If you look at the people inside the Trust, who the Prince's Trust serves, it's usually those who society can all too easily exclude or forget.

"They may have had a bad run at home, fallen foul of the law for some reason or other, or just got in with the wrong crowd, and as a result become so far behind. In today's fast moving environment, this digital savvy world that we live in... not having those core digital skills can knock you off track for the rest of your life."

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There are various routes available to students, including the 'XL Club' - introducing underachieving kids aged 13-19 to interactive STEM themes - 'Get Started With Apps' - for unemployed young people aged between 16-25 who want to learn about apps or big data and 'Get Into', which offers participants real work experience and vocational training.

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"Whether or not you want to go into a job in technology, you still have to be able to fill out the online form, you still have to be able to engage, interact, understand email and communicate properly," Walsh continued. "So those basic digital skills, how to engage through different media whether it's social or otherwise, are essential to get past the first hurdle."

Kaher Khan, 24, who has completed the 'Get Started With Apps' course, told IT Pro: "After I graduated I felt, not lost, but wondered 'well, what should I do now?' I could just go out there and get a graduate job and have a stable income but that was never really on my mind."

"It's important for young people to have those resources available to them so they can just go out there and have the confidence to start their own business because it's really hard when you don't know anyone and don't have the right contacts."

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Kaher heard about the scheme through JobCentre Plus, which he joined after graduating from university in 2014 with a 2:1 in economics and business. He'd always wanted to start his own company, but had received little support throughout school and college.

With the help of the Prince's Trust, Kaher is now preparing a business plan for his app a reading application designed for children and adults - to present to interested investors.

Walsh added: "You just look at Mark Zuckerberg, he talks about learning to code in his dad's dental practice when he was ten. It hasn't taken him a long time to get to where he is today. It's really the ones who don't have that ambition or that understanding or are in fear of it in the first place.

"I'm really looking at the outliers to make sure they understand the things we take for granted cloud technology; social media. They may have used it a little bit but what does it mean for a business context, and how can they use it for their benefit?"

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