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Digital skills are highly valued in creative firms such as media, marketing, advertising and PR, according to new research.
A study by Capgemini has found that firms in the media and marketing spaces value digital skills in young people more highly than do employers in the IT and telecoms or retail industries.
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When asked how highly they valued digital skills in workers between the ages of 16 and 25, 100% of decision-makers in the media, marketing, sales and PR industries said they were either important or very important, compared with 98% in the IT and telecoms sector and only 82% in retail.
However, one-fifth of companies in the media, marketing, advertising, PR and sales industries thought younger applicants did not have the right digital skills for the jobs.
More than 80% of decision-makers in the survey said digital literacy is important for their business, but 18% overall thought young applicants do not have the specific skills their organisations need.
Paul Brown, director at youth charity The Prince’s Trust, which helps young people find work, said: “Many of the young people the trust supports have not had experience of applying digital skills in the workplace and don’t always realise the growing significance of this to employers across a range of sectors.”
Because most firms and industries now use technology, digital skills are becoming increasingly important, especially since many of the jobs young people will have in the future do not exist yet.
Almost half of senior decision-makers in companies said younger people are unable to adapt their digital skills to a workplace environment for activities such as using collaboration tools, designing software or using and developing cloud applications.
Almost 90% of firms said the most important digital skill for work was using the internet for work purposes, and 84% said young employees need the digital knowhow to produce basic digital content.
Brown added: “Whether it’s a job in retail, hospitality or even accounting, solid digital literacy is as much a fundamental requisite as traditional academic qualifications.”
Cyber security also ranked highly in the skills required of young employees, with 87% of firms saying job applicants need to know how to stay safe online and 20% wanting young people to know how to protect personal and work information.
Capgemini aims to combat the lack of digital skills in young people by partnering with The Prince’s Trust and other organisations to teach young people the skills they need.
Many argue that this type of collaboration between industry bodies and the education sector is what is needed to increase the digital skills in young people that employers need.
Alex Smith-Bingham, head of digital at Capgemini UK, said: “Young people have grown up with technology at their fingertips, but clearly there is more work to do to develop the digital skills that are required in the workplace.”