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Better Education of 'Digital Footprint Double-Edged Sword' Needed

Article date: Thu, 04 Jun 2015 09:51 GMT

UKFast round table experts warn social media can leave negative digital footprint for young jobseekers

Industry experts are warning that education around digital footprints must improve to prevent young people becoming unemployable.

Aaron Saxton, director of training and education at cloud technology firm UKFast, believes more needs to be done to prevent children posting regrettable content across multiple social media channels and facing the consequences later in life.

Saxton said: "For young people, popularity is one of their main priorities so conveying the importance of the digital footprint is a huge challenge for schools. Kids don't think about the future the same way that we do. They post content on social media, and once it hits the public domain, it's there for life whether they like it or not."

According to research by recruitment technology firm Jobvite, 94% of businesses already, or plan to, use social media within their recruitment strategies.

Daniele Palos, director of online apprenticeship service The Skills Company warned that although some progress is being made, children and their parents are still naïve to the way social media can affect future career prospects.

She said: "Cyber awareness in schools is key. E-safety and cyber security are slowly creeping into the curriculum and this is vital for youngsters. Parents are not as internet-savvy and children have no idea how much power they have online, or what damage they could be doing to their future careers. They need to be educated from a young age."

The internet has had an astonishing effect on the employment industry, for both employees and employers, especially for Simon Swan director of fast-growing online recruitment marketplace, Hiring Hub.

Swan has previously warned of the dangers of legacy content online and believes that education early on could help future issues in the workplace, beyond the recruitment stage.

He said: "I've employees causing disruption in the workplace after posting something inappropriate on social media. It can then be a very slippery slope as employers tend to deal with these things very seriously; more so now than ever. Employees and employers alike need to be extremely cautious about what they post on social media and how it may affect their position at the workplace."

It's not all negative though, David Edmundson-Bird head of digital marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University believes even though it's still a concern, university students are slowly starting to realise the importance of the digital footprint they leave behind and this could begin to filter through to younger generations.

He said: "Social media is a double-edged sword. Luckily, students are actually getting savvier; they are getting shrewder about what they put on social media because they are becoming aware of how much it could affect their future job prospects. The sense of secrecy has changed over the past couple of years."

Saxton added: "We are in a more public world than ever; recruitment is no longer just about a CV and interview. There's nowhere to hide if you post your whole life online, you have no idea how far that post may travel around the world or how it may be perceived by the person recruiting you for your dream job in a few years' time."

The experts gathered at a roundtable debate at UKFast Campus in Manchester, covering the latest technology trends and challenges facing businesses in the UK.


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