[Johannesburg, 12 September 2007] - The ever intensifying use of technology at all levels of business and society means computer literacy is rapidly becoming a prerequisite to enter the job market, advance in the workplace and even participate in government processes.
While skills development is a legislated requirement, many organisations have not yet tapped into the process and productivity enhancements that result from empowering entry level staff with basic computer skills.
Says Daphne Seiler, COO of Dexford Learning Academy: "Virtually every job out there is becoming reliant in some way on technology - or will soon be. Workers that do not have basic computer literacy skills will thus become ever more marginalised. Those that can benefit most are in the entry level positions of organisations, namely project secretaries, office administrators and clerks, receptionists, drivers, cleaning staff, etc.
"Besides boosting productivity, basic computer skills enhance life skills and quality of life, as well as open up new opportunities for these employees to take on greater responsibility and advance within the organisation - and in the broader job market. More than just another skills development step, this is empowerment of people at its best."
Dexford Learning Academy offers specialised BI and advanced Microsoft courses, but has added soft skills and accredited entry level computer literacy courses to its portfolio to cater to the growing demand for these basic proficiencies.
"The Information Systems, Electronics and Telecommunications Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (ISETT SETA) accreditation we have achieved for our courses means companies making use of our services can better meet the rebate requirements of the Skills Levy," explains Seiler.
"However, with the recent introduction of a new learnership, the N3 level National Certificate: Information Technology, End User Computing by the ISETT SETA, companies can now ensure their staff can work towards a recognised qualification that can set them on a career path with more options and perhaps better prospects."
Basic computer literacy is the foundation on which the scarce skills identified by the ISETT SETA are built. The "Information Technology, End User Computing" course is an introductory course to other N4 qualifications. It ensures the learner can operate a PC; use generic functions in a graphical user interface (GUI) environment; install a peripheral device; and use applications to create a slide presentation, manage files, create, edit and format documents. The course lends from international certifications like Microsoft MOUS, IC3 and ECDL/ICDL.
Dexford Learning Academy offers an Introduction to Personal Computers course that includes theoretical and practical applications. Says Seiler: "Classroom learning is particularly important for adults attending computer literacy courses. So many of our students, sometimes older people, are scared stiff of computers. Instructor led courses get them beyond this in a 'safe' environment.
"It is, however, important that development of these skills be built into annual training plans and that accredited providers be used as this will ensure companies can earn back that 50% rebate on their skills levy. For a learnership, 20% of the remaining 50% can be claimed or up to 50% can be obtained through the awarding of a discretionary grant."
Adds Wynand van der Merwe, an independent consultant on skills development issues that has eight years' experience at ISETT SETA: "I cannot place enough emphasis on the fact that courses need to be done with accredited training providers. In this way credits can be earned toward SAQA registered unit standards.
"The ISETT SETA's End User Computing course enables learning that often takes place as on the on-the-job training to be formally recognised. Implementing computer literacy courses or a learnership of this nature within the organisation is especially important for smaller companies that generally get less value from the SETAs to increase their benefits.
"The value of a learnership is that it is 80% on the job training. Thus the learner/employee hardly loses any work time while improving his or her capabilities and productivity. In addition, the employer gets an extra pair of hands on board that can be groomed to fill a permanent position in the company."
Says Seiler: "Increasing the computer literacy of all staff within an organisation is a win-win proposition. The organisation benefits since it can claim back on its skills levy and its employees become more effective and efficient, while individuals gain skills that enhance their lives and increase their promotion prospects. Dexford Learning Academy is geared to assist companies to improve the integration of information and communication technologies into their business at all levels by providing training that delivers practical value and maximises staff productivity."