The O2, London – The scale of the digital skills required to fuel the burdgeoning digital economy has been laid bare today. New research from O2 reveals the need for more than three quarters of a million digitally skilled workers by 2017 to satisfy the UK’s digital potential.

Crucially, with youth unemployment seemingly stuck at one million, the study identifies a substantial opportunity for young people. According to the research, more than one fifth (169,000 – 182,000) of the jobs needed to support economic growth are ideally suited to the current generation of digitally-savvy youngsters.

The research also identifies scope for Government and businesses to work together to maximise the digital growth opportunity. It suggests that greater collaboration between the public and private sector could see an additional 100,000 jobs created in addition to the projected three quarters of a million requirement.

Speaking at Campus Party, one of the world’s largest technology festivals, Telefónica UK CEO Ronan Dunne said: “Now more than ever before, digital offers the chance to drive sustained economic recovery, but this will only be realised if we become a nation of digitally confident businesses with a digitally literate workforce. The onus cannot be on the Government alone. Businesses must proactively seek out opportunities to collaborate to maximise the digital growth opportunity and harness the potential of the next generation.

“As digital natives, young people possess valuable skills that will be the future fuel of our economy, but not enough is being done to harness them. At O2 we’re committed to playing our part, which is why we are hosting Campus Party, one of the world’s largest tech festivals, to showcase new ways to break into digital careers and give businesses an unconventional hunting ground to find the talent they need to propser.”

The study by Development Economics, commissioned by O2, uses econometric modelling to identify and predict the UK economy’s digital skills needs over the next five years. With existing Government initiatives designed to accelerate the growth of the digital economy expected to generate economic output worth £7 billion per year by 2017, the report identifies a number of recommendations to further maximise the opportunity – worth a further £4 billion per year to the UK economy.

In particular, there are three areas where together employers and Government can make a meaningful difference to ensure that the digital potential of the next generation is fully realised:

  • · Greater collaboration between Government and business to improve awareness of digital careers amongst young people
  • · Increased support from businesses and industry in the delivery of digital skills education in schools
  • · Backing from Government and businesses to increase engagement in digital skills exchange programmes, to encourage small businesses to better support and offer young people work experience

Tristan Wilkinson, Deputy Director, Go ON UK said: “This report highlights the scale of the digital opportunity but also the very real cost to our economic recovery if we do not create a workforce that is fit for the future.

“It’s vital that government, industry and the voluntary sector work together to ensure that everyone has basic online skills. Only then will we unlock the huge economic and social benefit that digital presents.”

The report was launched at Campus Party Europe, a week long, 24-hour a day festival bringing Europe’s brightest digital minds under one roof. The unique event aims to excite thousands of young people across Europe about the possibilities of new and emerging technology. The event’s digital skills market place will inspire a generation of young people and help create new pathways into digital careers.

Report findings can be found here


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Notes to editors

About O2

O2 is the commercial brand of Telefónica UK Limited and is a leading digital communications company. With over 23 million customers, O2 runs 2G, 3G & 4G networks in the UK. As well as operating O2 Wifi and owning half of Tesco Mobile, O2 has over 450 retail stores and sponsors The O2, O2 Academy venues and the England rugby team. Read more about O2 at

Telefónica UK Limited is part of Telefónica Europe plc (a business division of Telefónica SA) which uses O2 as its commercial brand in the UK, Slovakia, Germany and the Czech Republic. This September, Telefónica UK is hosting Campus Party, Europe’s biggest technology festival, at The O2 from 2 – 7 September. Buy tickets now at

Telefonica is undertaking a number of initiatives to support young people on their journey to work by 2015. including:

  • Increasing the number of paid apprenticeships and internships offering a broad range of experiences plus on-going mentoring and coaching
  • Creating more than 1,000 start-up opportunities worldwide through its Wayra and Talentum initiatives
  • Building a Telefónica Think Big community of more than 300,000 young people working to build a more entrepreneurial Europe by 2015.
  • Transitioning 5,000 young people and graduates from education into the workplace via its Talentum programme.

About Go ON UK

Go On UK is a cross-sector charity which was established in 2012 to encourage and support people, business and charities to enjoy the benefits of being online. Go ON UK has eight chief executives around its boardroom table – Age UK, BBC, Big Lottery Fund, E.ON, EE, Lloyds Banking Group, Post Office and TalkTalk. Together, Go ON UK’s vision is to make the UK the world’s most digitally skilled nation.


About Development Economics

Development Economics Ltd provides highly robust research, market analysis and consultancy advice for private and public sector clients. Led by professionals with over 20 years’ experience of developing strategies for businesses and public sector clients, the company possesses expertise in undertaking economic impact assessments, feasibility studies, skills development and regeneration strategies


About the research

The methodology deployed by Development Economics in the undertaking of research was three-fold:

  • · a thorough review was undertaken of the UK and international literature regarding the digital economy and the skills needs of digital industries and the economy more broadly;
  • · targeted consultations were undertaken with a number of industry, government and agency stakeholders; and
  • · an economic model was deployed focusing on employment, skills and productivity drivers of the UK economy and its regions, in order to assess future skills needs across a number of alternative forward-looking scenarios over the period 2012-2017

Report findings can be found here


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