Young people are 'left to their own devices' when it comes to digital skills

Almost half of young people are teaching themselves digital skills

Young people who are not in any form of education, employment or training are far more likely to be teaching themselves digital skills (73%), as are those in the C2DE social grade (52%). There is a slight gender divide, with 54% of young women learning by themselves, versus 43% of young men.

7% of young people say that nobody has taught them digital skills, although they would like to learn – equivalent to almost a million young people (990,000).

However, in the eyes of young people, not all schools and workplaces are providing good digital skills training. 12% of school-aged respondents do not think their school provides good training and almost a quarter of those who have left school (23%) do not think their school provided good training in the use of technology. A quarter of those in work (23%) do not think their employer provides good training to use technology.

Graph showing where young people learn digital skills

Why does this matter?

Initiatives and programmes are evolving in formal education – whether it’s improving the computing curriculum or embracing and incorporating digital in classrooms. Despite this, young people are far more likely to report they are self-taught than from a school setting in relation to digital skills. This is a real challenge from a further education perspective, from a skills and careers agenda and for the digital economy. Our education system isn’t seen as providing the pathways young people and the industry need. But it’s also an opportunity – to listen to, understand and be led by young people’s insights, motivations, and interests.


  • Are schools the most effective channel for building digital skills? How can we bridge gaps in digital skills for those not in education, employment or training?
  • How can the education system adapt or reimagine this core competence to put young people in the driving seat?
  • What is the role of young people themselves as peer educators and digital leaders?


Almost half of young people are teaching themselves digital skills

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