IT Illiteracy Plagues the UK Workforce

Productivity in the UK is suffering as 5.3 million workers lose two-and-a-half hours a week dealing with other people’s IT traumas. Figures revealed today show 59% of companies rely on self-trained staff to sort out everyday computer problems, meaning those in the know end up doing overtime as they take on the trials and tribulations of the IT illiterate.

According to a report published today by City & Guilds, the UK’s leading awarding body for work-related qualifications, many UK businesses have a ‘make do’ attitude to everyday IT issues. Small companies with 6-10 employees are the quickest to pass IT dramas onto unqualified staff, with 65% of IT ‘amateurs’ having to work above and beyond their contracted roles every day as a result.

Workforce woes

Even with 71% of households owning a computer, the UK‘s workplaces are suffering from IT phobia. Over a third (35%) of workers have failed to get a job done on time due to a lack of IT knowledge and trained support, with over half (54%) trying to fix problems by themselves, often doing more harm than good.

One in 20 even leave their desk when there’s an IT problem in the hope that it will have gone away by the time they return!

But the problem won’t just disappear. According to sector skills council e-skills, around 7.6 million people in the UK need to increase their IT skills to address current needs and changing employer demand over the next three years.

Ken Gaines, product manager for IT, comments, ‘City & Guilds commissioned this research to highlight how everyday IT issues are slowing down individuals, businesses and the economy.’

‘In many companies IT issues are passed on to existing staff in an attempt to keep costs down. However, without proper training, novices can end up costing companies far more in terms of productivity levels. For this reason, we urge employers, particularly of smaller companies, to support the development of IT user skills in their workforce.’

Professionals and their PCs

When it comes to pestering colleagues with worries over the workstation, lawyers are the worst offenders with 81% off-loading their computer qualms to their colleagues. Civil servants also cave in easily with computer questions being fielded to those “in the know” at least ten times a week.

However, call centres take a more forward-looking view to IT problems with an impressive 56% of call centre employees now having the necessary training to get themselves out of a sticky IT situation.

It’s not an ‘age old’ problem

Despite younger generations growing up around computers, their workplace IT literacy still leaves much to be desired. Figures show 43% of 19-to-21 year olds fail to get a job done on time due to a lack of IT skills, compared to 36% of 31 to 35 year olds.

Just like it’s said that men would rather get lost than ask for directions, 60% of men have admitted to, on occasion, just trying to muddle through and sort out a problem themselves, compared to 52% of women.

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