IT illiteracy hinders productivity

IT illiterate workers are causing productivity to suffer, according to a report by City & Guilds.

Over five million workers lose two and a half hours each week dealing with other people's IT traumas, totalling some 13 million hours of productivity lost each week.

Almost 60 per cent of companies rely on self-trained staff to sort out everyday computer problems while an alarming 65 per cent of IT amateurs work above and beyond their contracted roles daily.

Finishing jobs on time suffers, as 35 per cent of workers fail to finish jobs because of IT problems while 54 per cent try to fix the problems themselves, resulting in more harm than good.

Age is not really a factor in the race to finish work, according to City & Guilds. Those between the ages of 19 to 21 who lack IT skills fail to finish their work 43 per cent of the time, while only 36 per cent of 31-35 year olds fail to finish.

Gender does have a slight influence, however. Fitting the stereotype that men will not stop and ask for directions, 60 per cent of them will try to sort out IT problems themselves. This number drops to 52 per cent for women.

"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," said Ken Gaines, product manager for IT User qualifications.

Over the next three years, around 7.6 million people need to increase their IT skills to address current needs and employer demands, according to sector skills council e-skills.

This is especially true for the one in 20 people who simply leave their desk when a problem occurs, hoping it will magically disappear by the time they get back.