Digital literacy the key to NZ’s ICT skills shortage

The Auckland Business Leaders Group is calling on secondary schools to lift their game and embed ICT and digital literacy in the curriculum.  They point to a recent survey of 58 secondary schools with over 61,000 students that found fewer than 6% of these students were able to gain a qualification that demonstrates to a prospective employer that they are ‘job ready’ and equipped with the ICT skills suitable for taking up a job.

The 2020 Trust applauds this support from business leaders, but believes New Zealand can not wait for a curriculum change.  “This could take a decade before we start to see results,” said Laurence Zwimpfer, who manages digital literacy projects for the Trust.  “There are already solutions available that can deliver immediate results such as the ICDL programme.” ICDL Logo ICDL (originally known as the International Computer Driving Licence) is a proven fast-track to practical skills for business productivity.  The Auckland business leaders refer explicitly to basic ICT skills such as word-processing, data entry and logistics planning and these are exactly what the ICDL programme delivers.  Some countries such as Singapore already use the ICDL programme as a passport to work.

In less than 10 hours participants can work through a highly interactive online learning package and then sit an online test to verify their learning.  The test is fully automated and not only delivers instant pass/fail results, but also provides a guide to knowledge gaps.  When participants achieve an 80% pass rate in the practice tests, they can go on to sit a formal test in a controlled environment and receive an internationally recognised certificate.  Employers considering applicants with ICDL certification can confidently put them to the top of the list.

Smart employers in New Zealand are already using the ICDL programme to upskill their staff; there is plenty of evidence that confirms significant productivity gains when staff are competent ICT users – as much as 38 minutes a day per employee according to some studies.

The Lottery Grants Board has funded the 2020 Trust to work with 7500 job seekers over the next three years to provide basic ICT skills.  “We are working closely with Work and Income to channel job seekers through the ICDL programme to help them get a job,” said Mr Zwimpfer.  “We look forward to the day when every school graduate has the necessary ICT skills to get a job, but in the meantime we need to use the programmes available today.”

More details about ICDL and the KiwiSkills JobSeeker programmes can be found here.