In this day and age of technology, if you do not have at least some computer skills you are somewhat obsolete in any office or sales job, let alone managerial positions. The reality is that most employers will be using a computer for at least part of their operation with many companies relying to a very large degree on technology.If you do not have the computer skills to keep in line with the business processes then you may be more of a hindrance than an asset to your employer. But just what computer skills are necessary for the workplace? You are never going to need to know in-depth programming unless you are in the IT field but you should be computer literate.
What is computer literacy?
Computer literacy does not mean that you have to speak “computer code” as programmers do. It simply means that you understand how to :
- Start up, log in and shut down the computer.
- Open different programs like a word processor or browser.
- Create documents, emails, spreadsheets and slideshow presentations.
- Send these documents to a printer, save it on a memory stick or email it to a recipient.
- Search through folders for files.
- Connect to the Internet.
Any computer skills above and beyond these tasks are an added bonus. Depending on your employer and the business processes within the company, you may also need to have other computer skills like knowing how to use video conferencing, do some basic graphic editing and compiling documents into different formats for distribution.
Software Programs for the Workplace
The IT industry is flooded with different software that can do just about any task that you can imagine. Some are commercial software that can be bought over-the-counter, some are proprietary software that is modified for specific businesses while others are custom made programs created for a specific business and their processes. Training is usually provided for the latter two types of software but most employers will require you to have at least a basic understanding of the popular commercial software programs on the market.
This includes :
- Microsoft Windows
- Microsoft Office with an very good knowledge of Word and at least a basic understanding of Excel, Power Point and Outlook. Some employers opt for other similar software like OpenOffice.
- Adobe Acrobat Reader
- Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw or similar graphic software.
- Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome browsers.
- Skype, MSN Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Chat Messenger or Google Talk.
- Google Drive and Google Apps for Business.
It may seem overwhelming and most of us would like to stop at Microsoft Windows and Office but the reality is that employers are becoming more demanding as their business operations extend beyond continents and across the Internet.
Computer Literacy Course and Certification
You do not have to go back to university or tech to become computer literate and have some certification to verify your abilities. These days basic computer literacy is part of the high school curriculum and tertiary education training to some degree. But this may not be enough. There are many FET (Further Education and Training) colleges in South Africa that offer short computer literacy course but it is important to ensure that these courses are certified. It is the only way to be sure that your employer will recognise your qualification.
If you are already employed but need a slight edge over your colleagues with greater computer proficiency, then you can consider a weekend course which may not be certified. In this instance you already have the job but simply want to improve yourself in the workplace. You need the skills and the certification behind it may not be necessary. Ideally you would opt for a course that has SETA recognition even if it is not through an FET college.