IT illiteracy plaguing UK businesses, says City & Guilds

There are 13.25 million work hours lost a week as a result of IT illiteracy plaguing the UK workforce, says City & Guilds.

There are 13.25 million work hours lost a week as a result of IT illiteracy plaguing the UK workforce, says City & Guilds.

The provider of vocational qualifications says productivity in the UK is suffering as 5.3 million workers lose two-and-a-half hours a week dealing with other people's IT traumas.

Research figures show 59% of companies rely on self-trained staff to sort out everyday computer problems, meaning those in the know end up doing overtime as they take on the trials and tribulations of the IT illiterate.

According to the report, many UK businesses have a "make do" attitude to everyday IT issues. Small companies with 6-10 employees are the quickest to pass IT dramas onto unqualified staff, with 65% of IT "amateurs" having to work above and beyond their contracted roles every day as a result.

Even with 71% of households owning a computer, the UK's workplaces are suffering from "IT phobia", said City & Guilds. Over a third (35%) of workers have failed to get a job done on time due to a lack of IT knowledge and trained support, with more than half (54%) trying to fix problems by themselves, "often doing more harm than good".

One in 20 even leave their desk when there is an IT problem in the hope that it will have gone away by the time they return.

According to sector skills council e-skills, around 7.6 million people in the UK need to increase their IT skills to address current needs and changing employer demand over the next three years.

Ken Gaines, City & Guilds product manager for IT User qualifications, said, "City & Guilds commissioned this research to highlight how everyday IT issues are slowing down individuals, businesses and the economy.

He said, "In many companies, IT issues are passed on to existing staff in an attempt to keep costs down. However, without proper training, novices can end up costing companies far more in terms of productivity levels.

"For this reason we urge employers, particularly of smaller companies, to support the development of IT user skills in their workforce."

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