Boosting Britain’s IT skills

British businesses could be facing an IT crisis in the near future warns a new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operations and Development (OECD).

People in the UK don’t have the skills of people in other countries the research has found – which is likely to have a detrimental effect on companies looking to compete at a global level.

What is the problem?

Despite the majority of people in the UK having access to ICT technology, many don’t have the skills to use this to acquire and evaluate information, communicate with others and perform practical tasks; all skills which are regularly required in the workplace.

The OECD surveyed people’s competence levels with various common ICT tasks, including using email, word processing software, spreadsheets, databases and websites. The results showed the UK is being outperformed by nine other countries including Australia, the Netherlands and Japan.

And this isn’t the only survey which highlights a lack of ICT skills among UK workers. Research from the Confederation of British Industry shows a third of employers are struggling to employ young people with the technical skills they need, while a Prince’s Trust study shows 20% of unemployed young people felt their computer skills were not good enough to use in the job they want.

Our recent report, Ability x Skills + (Knowledge) = the right formula for change, argues more time in school should be spent developing young people’s workplace skills, including ICT, and giving them the knowledge and experience they need to enter UK businesses.

This is an issue which the government is trying to tackle by revamping the curriculum with help from businesses, to ensure young people have practical ICT skills which are applicable in the workplace.

What’s the impact on businesses?

The use of technology is vital for economic growth, productivity and innovation. This lack of ICT skills is severely hampering businesses, which increasingly need people to use IT as part of their day-to-day job, regardless of what industry they work in.

Research conducted by the University of Twente in the Netherlands has highlighted the problems a lack of ICT skills can cause.

Figures show on average workers spend 8% of their day trying to resolve issues relating to technology, with this number rising to 10% among lower-skilled staff. This adds up to thousands of hours in lost productivity each year, ultimately impacting on businesses’ bottom lines.

E-skills highlights US multinational firms are on average 8.5% more productive than UK domestic-owned firms, and much of the difference is due to the fact they make better use of IT.

How can we help?

Our ICT Functional Skills qualification offers employers an easy, flexible way to help employees build their IT skills.

We know every company is different – with different needs, different approaches and different ways of training. We use a unique combination of tutors, technology and purpose-built ICT Functional Skills learning content to deliver high-quality qualifications. But we also know that one size doesn’t fit all.

That’s why we’ve designed our ICT Functional Skills solutions to be flexible, giving you a scalable package which is what you want, when you want it. You can pick and choose different components of our ICT, maths and English Functional Skills solutions, depending on your business needs. Our assessment and diagnostic tools also allow you to produce a learning plan which is tailored to the needs of each individual learner.

For more information please call 0800 101 901 or request our information pack.