How computer literate are you?

Computers are the standard everywhere. Every workplace uses either computerised databases or other software programmes in some capacity or the other. Be it offices, manufacturing units, fast food joints or railway ticket bookings – a computer terminal is almost becoming omnipresent. What’s more, the use of computers is not just pervasive but also growing by the day.

It is obvious that people are becoming dependent on technology and computers have evolved into a basic tool for doing business. In this scenario, computer literacy has become an essential job requirement! In fact, in a recent survey computer literacy ranked just below communication skills and analytical ability on an employer's ‘wish list’ for new hires.

Regular employees definitely don’t have to know how to write complex programmes or networking technologies – leave that to software engineers, designers and other experts. But possessing basic computing knowledge is a must.

This includes typing on a keyboard, using a mouse, checking/sending emails, retrieving attachments, downloading files, searching the internet, working with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and so on.

Lot of people still have very little exposure to computers and their components. Some know only how to surf the web and play games; they are at a total loss when it comes to emailing attachments or even using the caps lock feature. Forget searching, filtering and managing files or dealing with malware.

Today, even clerks and receptionists are required to perform entry-level computing tasks and basic functions online.

Employees need to use a variety of programmes to do their jobs, that too without needing much help. With most information available in a digital format nowadays, employees are expected to be able to use computers in a quick, error-free and efficient manner.

Then again, lack of computer savviness can hamper job search as well. With most companies posting open job positions on the web and online job hunting gaining momentum, an inability to fill out online job applications and email resumes becomes a major drawback.

Getting there

With organisations measuring the value a potential employee brings to the table in terms of his or her technological competency, everything from getting a good job to advancing in your career to remaining competitive depends a lot on your level of computer literacy.

Hands-on computer experience and a level of comfort in computer usage is what will enable you to explore new opportunities.

But educating yourself is still easy. Basic computer courses are available everywhere ranging from a few days to weeks to a month depending on the level of proficiency required. They can cover anything from how to navigate and use computer operating systems, word processors and spreadsheets programmes, email systems and how to search the internet.

Then there are online courses or aspirants can even try to learn from manuals. Some organisations also provide elementary training to freshers about their company software.

This is a wake up call especially for older workers as they are the most hard-hit due to lack of computer skills. With computer literacy becoming mandatory, there is no option but to go back to school and acquire these skills.

They face another challenge in the form of stereotypes surrounding them like ‘lack of flexibility’ and ‘unable to handle technology’.

Then again, technology is progressing at an unprecedented rate.

Specialist employees have to catch up and constantly update themselves to be able to stay at the cutting edge. Here again, many organisations provide advanced training in-house or access to training courses and workshops.

To sum up, being computer savvy is no longer an option, but a dire necessity. Because no matter where you work, chances are high that you will be only metres away from a computer!

Payal Chanania


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