Young people “are preparing to benefit from the lasting changes brought about by Covid-19”

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Young people’s natural flair for digital skills could boost their long-term employment prospects despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to research commissioned by Snap.

The Snapchat owner believes there is a “genuine case of optimism” among Gen Z – typically those born between 1995 and 2010 – because they grew up with technology.

The study, undertaken by Oxford Economics, claims that younger generations are ready to exploit opportunities in emerging areas such as augmented reality and artificial intelligence, which have likely been accelerated by the move online during the Covid lockdowns -19.

But the report’s promising picture comes with a warning that governments, schools and universities must not only catch up on months of disrupted learning, but fundamentally rethink traditional models of education if they are to fully capture this chance.

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“Put simply, in the near future workers will be required to perform tasks that computers cannot,” said Henry Worthington, director of Oxford Economics.

“It’s not about robots taking our jobs, it’s about making sure we train the next generation to think and work in ways computers can’t.

“Our research shows that we need to move away from teaching young people to accumulate knowledge, to a more comprehensive education that focuses on the application of that knowledge, creativity and critical thinking.”

A Snap survey of 2,000 people showed that 16-24 year olds are embracing digital learning more than other age groups, not just for school but also for other uses such as watching online video to accomplish a daily task (34%) .

About 61% of Gen-Z respondents said they “know how to create something new” from online content, while nearly one in three said they know “how to monetize content.”

Claire Valoti, Snap’s international vice president, said: “Young people have had to overcome huge challenges so far during the pandemic, but as research from Oxford Economics shows, there are real reasons to be optimistic, especially if we can equip young people for a rapidly changing digital economy.

“Technologies like augmented reality have the potential to permeate all aspects of society and drive demand for a new set of creative and technical digital skills over the next decade and, most promisingly for Gen-Z, AR entrepreneurs highly value the soft skills inherent in Gen-Z including creativity, agility and willingness to learn.”

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