Wise Owl Training, a Manchester-based provider of computer training, has published the results of its basic computing test. The online exam, taken by almost 5,800 participants, demonstrated that UK workers still have substantial gaps in their IT knowledge.
The exam was made up of a random pool of 20 multiple-choice questions each taken from categories labelled ‘basic’, ‘intermediate’, and ‘advanced’.
Only one percent of participants (64) managed to answer all these queries correctly while the average score achieved was 11.
Furthermore, 5% of individuals (339) answered a quarter or less correctly, 35% (2,074) scored under half marks, while a quarter (1,581) achieved over 75% in the exam.
What does this mean for the digital workspace?
Although the participants demonstrated their willingness to learn new computing skills, the results suggest the UK still has a long way to go in preparing its employees for a digital workplace.
This sentiment has previously been expressed by Bill Mitchell, director of education at BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT. Reported in Computer Weekly last year, he expressed concerns that the UK may not soon have the required personnel to remain a digital leader. He stated:
“It is expected that 90% of all future jobs will require digital skills and it is estimated that the UK will need more than 1.2 million new technical and digitally skilled people by 2022 to satisfy future skills needs.”
Which questions proved the most challenging?
Out of all questions answered incorrectly during the exam, 23% were of a basic level. These included queries discussing such matters as identifying what a ‘cell’ in Excel is and knowing what a .txt file extension means.
In the latter example, around 30% of submitted answers were incorrect.
The areas which included most of the wrong answers were either covering Windows or regarding how to use the internet.
Furthermore, other commonly incorrect questions included such topics as identifying formatting on fonts, advanced features of emails, and details regarding taskbar icons.
What should businesses do?
Commenting on the findings, Andy Brown, director of Wise Owl Training, discussed how employers can improve the computer literacy of their employees to ensure they have the skills necessary for their job roles:
"To improve the computer literacy of employees, employers should above all else take the time to understand the level of ability and confidence of each member of their staff.
A bright young 25-year-old with a degree in computer science is likely to be able to learn software via either computer-based training or classroom training, whereas a 50-year-old who has grown up with typewriters and paper will likely need more hand-holding - and also more time to practice what they’ve learnt.
The most important aspect of training probably isn’t the training itself; it’s the input and interest of managers: as in so many areas of working life, there’s no substitute for good management."
If you want to take the test yourself – and see if you can beat the average score of 11 – you can do so through this link to Wise Owl Training.