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Digital Disconnect: Offline Jobseekers Less Likely To Find Work

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Survey reveals that employers want IT-savvy workers and are increasingly turning to the Internet to find staff

Jobseekers who are not computer literate are much less likely to find work than those who are, according to a new survey commissioned by UK Online Centres.

The survey found that 72 percent of employers are even unlikely to offer an interview to someone who does not possess at least basic computer and Internet skills.

Risk of exclusion

Employers also offered an insight into what computer skills they value in a potential employee. The ability to use email was required by 96 percent of recruiters, word processing skills by 94 percent, and the ability to search for information was valued by 83 percent.

The computer illiterate may struggle to even find a job advertisement as recruiters prefer to post vacancies online. According to the survey, employers find the internet easier, cheaper, more effective and more accessible and 25 percent of job opportunities are now posted solely online.

According to UK Online Centres, there are currently 8.4 million people in the UK who cannot use computers or the Internet and with unemployment now standing at 2.68 million, there is a real risk that many people may find it hard to re-enter the workforce.

“With unemployment at a high, we must acknowledge that digital skills are vital if you are to secure employment in this competitive market,” commented Martha Lane Fox, the government’s Digital Champion. “If 3.5 percent of offline unemployed could find work by using job Websites, it would deliver an estimated £560 million to the UK economy. It seems nonsensical that in 2012 there are still people missing out on the benefits and opportunities the Web can offer.”

No one is left behind

“It’s not just getting into work that can be affected – if you can use computers and the Internet, you’ll also earn between three percent and 10 percent more over your lifetime,” added Helen Milner, chief executive of UK Online Centres.

The European Union is also concerned and has warned that citizens who cannot use digital media risk being left out of society. It is pushing the importance of tech training to help combat this problem. However, the number of people using the Internet in the UK is actually growing, with more than half of new users being aged 50 or over.

Many are also turning to social networking sites, which now reach 82 percent of the world’s Internet population.