Barclays CEO: Coding skills key to boosting UK youth employment

Barclays CEO Antony Jenkins has called for more coding skills to be taught among children in order to support economic growth in the UK and more widely.


Teaching computer coding skills to UK school children will be key to solving youth employment and enabling future economic growth, according to Barclays CEO Antony Jenkins.

Speaking at the Davos conference, Jenkins highlighted the success of other countries such as Estonia in providing students with relevant IT skills to equip them for the job market, and warned that the UK must follow suit.

"In the UK we have a million not in employment, education or training, and we had 800,000 in 2004. This is the product of structural changes in the labour market and demand for skills, and that does take time to address," he told told Bloomberg TV. 

“The president of Estonia said that they have been working on [technology, innovation and entrepreneurship] for 14 years. Every child in Estonia gets taught coding in school, and that has created one of the most advanced technologically based economies in the world.”

He added: “That sort of forward thinking is what we need much more broadly if the world is going to flourish in the coming decades.”

The UK government is in the process of revamping its ICT curriculum, putting more emphasis on development of IT skills, including coding.

The first courses for the new national computing curriculum will be launched this summer.

Jenkins added that his company, which employs 144,000 staff globally, is likely to see more job cuts as Barclays delivers greater levels of automation across its business.

“The banking industry is going through what I regard as a 100-year transformation, and we as an industry have to do the things that other industries have done in the past: get more effective, get more efficient, focus more on the customer," he said.

“As technology comes along that means we will lose jobs in certain areas, but what will remain are higher quality, more interesting, more career development type roles for people.”

The bank already announced 1,700 front line staff cuts in November, stating that it is responding to technological change spurred by the increased use of smartphones by customers.

As a result it will target “overcapacity” at its network of 1,600 branches through a voluntary redundancy scheme for customer-facing staff.

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