Procurement · 6 July 2017

Nurturing digital skills of schoolchildren vital to creating future entrepreneurs

Over half of school pupils were already confident in their coding abilities
Over half of school pupils were already confident in their coding abilities

Almost half of UK schoolchildren have ambitions of becoming future entrepreneurs, according to new research, but a failure to nurture their promising technical abilities risks economic growth and job creation.

The study, by Barclays Business Banking, uncovered a strong entrepreneurial will among children aged between eight and 16 that, the bank said, could be worth £23.3bn to the UK economy by 2025 through new businesses.

With the right support, Britain’s track record of producing successful tech startups looks secured. Of those keen on founding a business in future, almost a quarter wanted to start a digital firm, with app and video game development frequently cited as popular destinations.

The UK’s tech-savvy schoolchildren were found to already be honing a wealth of digital skills that could vital to economic growth in the coming decades.

Over half were confident in their blogging abilities, while 37 per cent had started developing proficient coding skills. More than a quarter also had experience in building apps and websites, demonstrating the already strong potential of the next generation.

Despite the pull of entrepreneurship within UK schools, young people have failed to be represented in country’s community of startup founders. Currently, young people make up just six per cent of small business owners, according to the bank.

Further, the research uncovered some alarming attitudes held by schoolchildren towards the business world. Access was a particular concern, as over one in ten believed starting a business was exclusively open to rich people.

Commenting on the findings, Ian Rand, CEO of Barclays Business Banking, said Britain’s schoolchildren were already demonstrating the skills to “disrupt and innovate” in the startup world and become future entrepreneurs.

“It’s no surprise that the UK has a generation of ambitious entrepreneurs waiting in the wings,” he added.

However, Rand raised concerns of under-representation and barriers to access faced by the young.

“If we want this talent and ambition to flourish, we all need to encourage children who should have access to the right tools and resources to convert their dreams into the businesses of the future. We’re calling on the rest of the industry and government to get behind the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

Following Rand’s demands to support the transition of young people into business owners, the government signalled an intention to help develop the talents of Britain’s future workforce.

Speaking at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Education Summit today (7 July), education secretary Justine Greening will announce a campaign to “create an army of skilled young people for British businesses”.

Greening will urge business leaders across the UK to work with policy makers to deliver work experience in coding, design, engineering and construction to ensure the country remains competitive.

Ten of Britain’s most exciting young entrepreneurs to watch

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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