Computer Usage Rises, But IT Skills Shortage Remains

Computer usage has rocketed over the past decade, with technology increasingly entering homes and businesses.

A 2007 report for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DIBS) found that those who have undergone the likes of typing courses as well as Word 2007 courses and are skilled in word processing, spreadsheets and databases have increased office efficiency dramatically.

The authors, Peter Dolton and Panu Pelkonen, from the Centre for the Economics and Education, said that computer literacy, which can be gained through training such as Microsoft Office courses in London, is one of the most basic skills necessary for people in the current workplace.


Increased Productivity.

Computers are found in increasingly diverse business environments, from factory floors to bakeries and buses to florists.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) explain why technology is so widely used.

The data shows that use of computers is connected to high productivity.

Businesses where over 75 per cent of employees use computers see over £40,000 of value added per worker, compared to just over £20,000 for those where less than a quarter of the workforce uses technology.

According to the figures, manufacturing companies in the UK gain an extra 2.2 per cent of productivity with an extra ten per cent of employees using computers.

In newer firms, this effect is heightened, with added output rising to 4.4 per cent, suggesting the importance of IT training.

When it comes to using the internet, the boost in efficiency is even greater. Manufacturing firms gain an extra 2.9 per cent in productivity for each additional ten per cent of workers using the web, according to the ONS research.


Boosted Earning Potential.

However, many business leaders have still stressed a shortage in computer skills among the workforce, despite the obvious benefits of undergoing IT training.

The BCIS report showed that in 2007, people using IT earned 48 per cent more money that those who didn’t.

In more general terms, the authors found that employees using word processing and email programmes saw a significant wage return, so secretary courses with Microsoft Outlook in London could be the way to go to boost earning potential.

According to the findings, the more computers were used in a workplace, the higher an individual’s earnings were likely to be if they too used a computer.

In addition, the greater the number of tasks that an employee was able to perform using information technology, the larger their salary.

Many careers advisers recommend that workers wanting to improve their IT skills, and therefore their job prospects, undertake the European Computer Driving Licence.


Skills Shortage.

BCS and the Chartered Institute for IT, recently found that businesses believe improving IT skills among the UK workforce should be a top priority in order to boost economic recovery.

Almost two-thirds of senior IT managers surveyed by these organisations said there should be a greater focus on IT education at all levels.

The majority of respondents felt better computer skills were more important than an improved IT infrastructure for accelerating economic recovery.

David Clarke, Chief Executive of the BCS, said that IT training was “essential” for turning the upturn into a long-term competitive advantage.

“Our ability to process, share and manage information will determine the success of our society,” he explained.

The BCS has set out a new vision and strategy which includes addressing the digital divide and IT skills shortages.


Towards A Digital Britain.

With the recent Digital Britain white paper outlining plans to ensure that every home and business in the UK has access to high-speed broadband, the need for computer skills is only likely to increase in the future.

The government wants to guarantee that next-generation internet is available universally by 2012, so IT training could become even more important.

“Investing in areas such as broadband access for every home and business and the move from analogue to digital technology will bring benefits across the board, driving growth, enabling businesses to thrive, and providing new opportunities and choices for households right across the country. It is an essential part of building Britain’s future,” said Gordon Brown.

The government continues to put technological investment on the agenda as the country aims to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to IT skills.

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