30% of youngsters say digital skills are their strongest asset, but employers 'don't recognise' their workplace potential

Young job hunters think work experience and workplace contacts are most important when getting a first-time job, research from O2 has found.

Just behind these two CV-boosters were experience in a similar field and educational qualifications from GCSEs to degrees.

Some 1,000 16-24 year-olds were surveyed, and it was also found that almost one in three (30%) say their digital skills are their strongest asset, above both communication and customer service skills.

Young people said foreign languages were a skill they would not class as their strongest point.

More than 50% of youngsters said their skills in the digital world were valuable when searching for work.

Over two fifths (44%), however, say that when they are at interview, employers do not recognise digital skills and what they may bring to the workplace.

Some companies predict that one fifth of their growth over the next three years will come from digital channels, so O2 is urging youngsters to show off their digital skills to possible employers.

The communications company is also encouraging employers to turn to the internet generation to help their business needs.

O2's Ronan Dunne said: "There are more than a million young people out of work. It's a travesty that whilst businesses are crying out for digital skills, they are excluding from the workplace the very people who have them.

"Now is the time when thousands of young people will be deciding what to do next. We want to encourage them to make the most of the fact that they have grown up in a digital world and be confident in the value of their skills to prospective employers.

"Businesses need to recognise the value that young people can bring - they are the future fuel of the economy and have the skills we need to help pull us out of recession."

The research also found that youngsters have an abundance of digital skills, with nine in 10 (90%) able to go online and promote a cause, event or an idea.

Two in three young people (66%) can design a webpage, the research also found.

Copyright Press Association 2012