All wired for
Some technology skills will stand you in good stead, Ben Pike discovers.
FASTER mobile technology and the shift to a digital economy is making basic computer and IT skills a must in today’s workforce.
About 91 per cent of Australian businesses have an internet connection and organisations increasingly insist their employees have skills in using mobile devices and PCs.
Employers, however, may need to help their workers bridge the skills gap, with 78 per cent of workers aged 60 and over saying IT skills have been important to get work and that they have needed to update them.
Greg Wall, owner of computer training company Wall to Wall Computer Services, offers courses on how to use Microsoft programs.
He says there are more people attending his training centre who are seeking a different career path, returning to the workforce after having children, or feeling left behind in the digital age.
‘‘ There are former managers out there who have been able to avoid computers because they thought it was too hard or had people under them to do it but they are not going away from the workforce and they need these skills,’’ he says.
‘‘ Now they are working as consultants and realise they can’t work with pen and paper.
‘‘ The levels of skill of the average office worker have gone up a lot.
‘‘ Whereas Microsoft Word was the standard 20 years ago, people are working a lot more with the mouse.
‘‘ These days it’s expected people have good knowledge of Windows, Outlook (to send and receive emails and set up meetings), creating and building reports and putting together documents and emailing them.’’
Wall says in the past five years it has become expected that people have basic Microsoft Excel knowledge, such as taking a list, sorting it and performing basic calculations.
He says another important skill is working with pivot tables in Excel, which lets users sort 60,000 rows of data within three seconds – if they know what they are doing.
A News Limited survey this year found that 84 per cent of respondents have taught themselves to use the internet.
Another 10 per cent say they have learnt to do so either through doing a course or at school.
Fifty-six per cent of respondents say they are required to go online for their jobs; 14.5 per cent say they occasionally have to go online for work. As well as knowing how to work on computers in the office, many employers now encourage staff to be proficient
Leanne Duffield, bankruptcy officer at MyBudget.