UK teenagers are ahead of their European counterparts in using basic workplace technologies such as email, PowerPoint and Word, new research from business communications company Fuze has revealed.
The study indicates that compared to other nations in Europe, UK schools are making significant efforts to ready teens for the workplace. The findings show 69% of UK teenagers have been offered work experience opportunities, compared to a European average of 51%. Meanwhile, 78% given access to careers advisers, compared to an average of 65%.
However, the research among more than 2,500 teenagers and 5,000 adult workers across Europe, highlights a potential challenge for businesses with a clear disconnect between how teenagers choose to communicate and the communication methods used in businesses today. Just 1% of teenagers prefer to use a landline telephone to communicate with friends, yet 63% of UK office workers see the desk phone as an essential item for work. A majority of 57% of teenagers use video calling apps, but under half (47%) of adults use video calls in work.
In addition, only 12% of UK teenagers aged 15 to 18 years have received lessons in how to code computing languages at school. The figure is low compared to other nations in Europe, including France (25%), Germany (13%) and the Netherlands (19%). These findings are contrary to the government’s shift in focus for technology in the curriculum from softer skills of information and communications technology to the harder coding skills of computing.
There are also insights on the attitudes of 500 UK teenagers to technology in school and their perceptions of technology in the workplace. These include - 69% who believe they technology used in school is inferior to what they use at home, 63% who think they know more about technology than their teachers, 82% think they know more about tech than their parents, and 82% who want to be able to use that latest tech at work.
These findings show interesting parallels with the views of adults currently in the world of work, 66% of whom believe their workplace technology needs to catch up to their personal technology.
Luca Lazzaron, senior vice president of international operations at Fuze, said: "Whatever your view of the UK curriculum with regards to technology, there’s no denying that preparing today’s youth for the world of work is an interesting challenge.
“It seems that schools are making significant efforts to ensure young people are ready for work. The bigger question, however, is whether the world of work is ready for them. This is the first generation that has grown up in a world of ‘always on’ connectivity, where carrying a computer around in your pocket is the norm. Meanwhile the world of business has struggled to keep up with that pace of change. Workplace technologies are still not ‘mobile first’ in the way that this generation’s approach to technology is. The ‘app generation’s’ relationship with technology is going to have a significant impact when they enter the workplace, whether what they’ve learnt in school is how to code or how to create slideshows.”
Professor Howard Gardner, developmental psychologist and co-author of the book ‘The App Generation’, which inspired Fuze’s report, said: “Both our book and this report highlight how teenagers still place considerable value on face-to-face communication, despite relying heavily on text-based communication. Interesting, too, is the app generation’s emphasis on personally tailored technology and work environments. This speaks to their desire for solutions that suit them and just work.
“There is an increasing need to understand how digital media and technology is shaping the way that teenagers are interacting with the world around them. It’s already significantly impacted their lives, and this report sheds some light on how it may shape the world of work in the not-so-distant future.”