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Young Australians are lagging behind when it comes to digital intelligence

Young Australians might be able to double-tap their way through an Instagram feed or spend hours scrolling through social media, but when it comes to digital intelligence and job prospects, we are well and truly lagging.

Research released at the World Economic Forum at Davos compared young people from nine nations and their digital proficiencies.

1,000 people between the ages of 16 and 25 were polled from each country, including Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, South Africa, Britain and the United States.

The study, conducted by leading IT firm Infosys, found that not only are young Australians not particularly optimistic about their job prospects but only 19 per cent showed an interest in coding, the lowest figure reported by all nine countries.

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This telling information comes just a few short months after Malcolm Turnbull announced a $1 billion innovation statement, aimed at enabling startups and collaborations between the public and private sector.

The government will also contribute $51 million over five years to help Australian students “embrace the digital age and better prepare for the jobs of the future”.

“Part of being a government committed to innovation is to lead by example and respond to changing circumstances,” the statement read.

Clearly the circumstances reveal that Australia’s young people aren’t in touch with the opportunity that digital intelligence can provide.

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But how can we ensure it’s made a priority, so we’re not left behind in the world of innovation and technology?

1. Build some confidence in the area

Young Australians, while being among the most aware of the power of technology and role it will play in the future of business and innovation, lack confidence to pursue this area. In order to build confidence, we need to inspire our young people to get involved and learn about different technological skills. “This disparity needs to be addressed so we can empower our future leaders to succeed in the workforce of the future,” Infosys Australia and New Zealand vice-president and regional head Andrew Groth says.

2. Seek opportunities to learn new skills

In 2015 it was found that only 32 per cent of Australian students said they have been given an opportunity to learn coding in school. Two-thirds of students said they wanted to learn coding, but didn’t know how to pursue it. Making these opportunities available is fundamental if we want the knowledge of our young people to expand. Look for courses and opportunities by searching online or talking to the school.

3. Get creative

Think outside the box. I know it sounds cliché but hear me out. There are loads of startups, incubators and other industry bodies out there that are facilitating digital growth. Take a look at what other digital companies are doing around the world in order to get inspired to create your own opportunities. According to research, young people today aren’t fixated on securing one job for the rest of their lives, entrepreneurship is a real possibility. “Research shows that young people recognise a ‘job for life’ is a thing of the past and so they can expect to retrain and re-skill a number of times during their working life,” Business Council of Australia chief of staff Matt Garbutt said.

What do you think about young Australians and their level of digital intelligence? Let us know.

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