Anna Codrea-Rado published an article in the Guardian recently which suggested that all degree courses should have an IT element, so that graduates leave university with basic IT skills as well as a degree.
This seems like a no-brainer to me, but why limit it to university students? Shouldn’t all children gain IT skills before they leave school?
I know that most schools have decent IT facilities these days, and the (few, admittedly) young teenagers that I know are experts when it comes to using IT for social networking.
As we all know, there is a huge difference between corporate IT systems and Facebook, and a young person coming into the workplace for the first time might well get a bit of a shock when they realise that the PC in front of them is a business tool, not an opportunity to tweet or update their status on an hourly basis.
I think the Computer Driving Licence (www.ecdl.com) could be extremely useful. It’s a shame it hasn’t really taken off, but the idea of a universal skills standard has huge benefits when it comes to operational effectiveness, not to mention improving the lives of our Service Desk colleagues.
Even if most young people coming into work are much more confident using IT than the current generation, there are still some areas which need to be addressed;
- MS Office – this is an absolute pre-requisite for anyone coming into the workplace. I know that some organisations are looking at open source or cloud solutions, but MS Office provides a de facto standard for office applications, and everyone should know the basics.
- Information Security – the principle of social networking is sharing. However, in a work environment, the focus is, or should be, using information appropriately. This goes for email security too; There’s a world of difference between personal and work related email, and we’ve all seen what happens when these get mixed up.
- Business IT – I don’t think it’s possible to teach business systems outside of a specific work context, but everyone should understand that, in addition to generic office systems, there will be some business or industry specific systems that they will probably need to use as part of their job.
Thirty years ago, IT in the workplace was a novelty. Today, it’s so fundamental that we hardly even give it a second thought, yet there are still technophobes & IT-illiterate people out there who require high levels of IT Support. Every Service Desk knows who they are. Surely it’s about time that business leaders insist everyone gets up to speed?