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Government-backed report shows IT skills boost earnings

Rebecca Thomson

Computer literacy is one of the most important skills for workers in advanced economies, a report for the government has found.

The report says people who use IT at work earn more than those who do not, with the percentage increase dependent on other factors such as ability.

The research, done by the Centre for the Economics of Education for the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills, says, "Computer literacy represents one of the most important basic skills necessary for an individual to function in an advanced industrial economy."

The authors found the rate of return on computer use is between 3% and 10%, with the actual percentage dependent on "unobserved differences and individual unobserved ability".

The government has emphasised the importance of IT skills in the UK before, with many agreeing they are crucial for the country's economy.

The use of word-processing, e-mail and programming give a "significant" wage return, and the higher number of tasks a worker uses a computer for, the higher their wages are likely to be, according to the authors.

They also found that computer use is directly linked to education, with users having on average 2.5 years more schooling than non-users.

Previous studies have over-estimated the return of IT to wages, they said, because they have not taken background factors into account. If aspects such as ability are not controlled for, earnings for those using IT are 48% higher than for those who are not.


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