Most UK businesses are under utilising employees' end-user computer skills, according to a survey of 1,000 school leavers and graduates by Loudhouse Research.
The survey was commissioned by database software supplier Filemaker to examine whether computer skills taught in UK schools and universities matched the demands of the workplace.
However, the research showed that although most school leavers (82%) and graduates (84%) felt confident about their computer skills, only 51% were using those skills in their work.
The survey showed 85% knew how to use presentation software, but only 39% reported using it at work, 88% had learned to use spreadsheet software, but only 65% said they used it as part of their job, and 51% used technology creatively at work.
"Many businesses, particularly SMEs, are not aware of the level of skill employees have, but failure to make the most of the skills they have employed could put them at a competitive disadvantage to organisations that use technology skills effectively," said Tony Speakman, regional manager for Filemaker in northern Europe.
The survey also found that UK business is training staff on the job instead of providing formal training. Forty nine per cent of respondents said training in using database software was unstructured, with only 12% receiving formal training.
"It is short sighted for businesses to overlook the benefits of proper training because if applications are more thoroughly understood, productivity levels go up," said Speakman.
Businesses should invest in structured training, understand how technology can power the business, and tailor job responsibilities according to the computer skills of new recruits to get the most out of technology and employees' ability to use it, he said.
"Today's new recruits possess IT skills that previous generation did not have and job specs need to be re-aligned to use these skills and incorporate them into job functions," said Speakman.