Young people inspired to seek digital jobs but worry they will need new skills to be successful

Digital technology is creating new, more interesting job opportunities, according to an Accenture (NYSE: ACN) study, which surveyed 5,000+ UK residents from the age of 12+. However, the research found that student age respondents worry they may not be equipped with the relevant skills to make the most of those opportunities.

Asked what digital means to them from a personal and professional perspective, 75% of 12-17 year olds believe that digital technologies will give them more job opportunities than they would otherwise have had. Half say digital will help them get their “dream job”, while 67% also recognise they will be competing for new roles, such as data scientists that are being created as a result of all organisations using digital to re-imagine how they operate their business.

Although this age group are digitally literate and socially connected, they fear that their education isn’t providing them with the right skills for these new roles. Two thirds (65%) feel that the current curriculum is not developing or enhancing their digital skills adequately.

“It’s good news that young people feel optimistic about the opportunities digital offers, but the fact that they don’t feel they are being fully equipped is worrying. After all, they are the next generation of our workforce and the future of British business is in their hands,” said Nick Millman, managing director, Accenture Digital. “We know that jobs will look different in the future as a result of digital, and yet it seems that even the positive changes already made in classrooms and the curriculum such as the introduction of coding, still may not be enough. We need to give young people the confidence to contribute to organisations that want to become fundamentally digital.”

Digital inspires

While there is more to be done in the classroom, it is clear that people of all ages in the UK believe digital drives opportunities in the workplace. Half of those people surveyed said that digital will enable them to be more productive (51%), creative (48%) and more flexible, with 54% saying work will be able to happen irrespective of location.

Millman explains: “At the heart of this report is a desire to give businesses visibility of what is really going on in the world around them. Too few have fully embraced and adopted digital and it is crucial that they mirror the passion and energy felt so strongly by their next-generation workforce. It is only by carving out a digital strategy relevant to young people to become digital on the inside, that organisations can ensure they continue to succeed and shape the future.”

Use Digital to reinvent the workforce

Digital will transform the lives of younger generations. Parents believe digital will give children more opportunities than they would otherwise have had (74%) and that jobs will be enhanced (78%), which could be driven by advances in cognitive computing. Over half (56%) of all respondents agree that humans should instruct machines to do as much as possible, leaving humans to do more of the interesting and innovative roles.

“In order to realise the full potential of a workforce, businesses need to augment manual tasks, as well as automate the less creative ones,” Millman concludes. “The fact is, digital technologies have the ability to transform both personal and professional worlds, allowing all of us more flexibility and choice in the way we work, but crucially also more options about the tasks we are asked to perform. Organisations need to get better at presenting themselves as digital enablers, reassuring potential employees that their lives will be enhanced because the business has implemented technology appropriately.”

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