Many businesses in our region are facing an IT skills gap – with an ageing workforce struggling to keep up with the technology revolution. We help businesses make the most of IT by teaching the basics of computing. In this post, we look at our recent programme with Port Nelson in preparation for their new Labour Management System.
The IT Skills Gap
Port Nelson is not alone in having an ageing workforce. New Zealand has among the highest rates of employees aged over 55 years of all OECD countries. And it’s expected to rise in the coming years.
For Port Nelson, the average age of their Nelson workers is 50 years old. In Picton, it’s 70.
We’re talking about committed, hard-working staff who know their industry. For some, they’ve never had the chance to learn about computers. They’ve seen the younger guys coming through who are naturals and it can feel like they’ll never catch up.
Sometimes they need a push to jump in. And that’s where the new Labour Management System at Port Nelson came in.
A new Labour Management System
For Port Nelson, technology provides a way to speed up some complicated processes. Automated ordering. Pre-populated and visual health and safety reports. Online training.
This year, they’re focusing on a new IT system for labour management. The big benefit for staff? They will be able to plan their lives more than 1 or 2 days in advance.
Of course, if they can’t use a device – they will miss out on that important benefit.
With the new system on the horizon, Port Nelson came to us to help them identify who might need help.
We gave them our quick one-page computing self-assessment to identify who needed help.
Two days later, they could identify 8 people who had almost no experience with technology, and 20 who had only basic skills. They decided to start with the 8 staff members with little computing knowledge. Two of them were supervisors who would need to use the new system a lot more than they do now.
Port Nelson going the extra mile
Port Nelson impressed us with their support of the programme and their employees. They went the extra mile.
They paid their staff during the training and arranged their schedules so they could attend. That’s no mean feat in a business where scheduling is such a challenge.
They also provided lunch, a warm training room and computers for staff to use outside the training.
These details make a real difference and show how much they value their staff.
And you could see the difference this made. Amanda Dykzeul, Training Advisor, could see the impact on the staff members:
“They were rapt that someone was putting this effort into them and making sure they were OK and ready to use the technology before we rolled it out.”
This is often one of the biggest benefits of any training. It shows staff how you value them. Staff who feel valued perform better, stick around for longer and rave about you around town.
Some staff had a little computing knowledge before the course, but they also had a lot of questions.
Self-evaluations showed that all significantly improved their skills and confidence.
For the tutors, this was obvious. “In the first week, they were tentative, uncertain, and worried about breaking the computers”, says Chris McLennan, one of the tutors.
“They were joking that they felt like dunces when they started. They called their class Computing 101, but after a few weeks they said they were now at 300 level,” says Amanda.
“A couple of weeks later, even the staff who had never used a computer before were comfortably using web browsers and email. By the time they saw the Labour Allocation system, they had the skills they needed to use it with confidence”, says Pip Lynch, the lead tutor.
Amanda saw this transformation firsthand: “I sat with two of them recently on our work computers and was amazed at their progress. They just had the confidence to give things a go. This is massive for us, and for the new system about to come online.”
And here’s what the staff themselves had to say.
- “Now I can bounce around on the computer, do things knowing you’re not going to stuff it up.” Graeme.
- “I learned to send an email. That’s a good thing because I didn’t have a clue about sending an email before I came here.” Barry
- “I can access the internet, that’s something I didn’t know so it’s been a bit for me, I was totally ignorant before I came here.” Barry
During the course, the tutors talked with the learners about the many ways of using IT skills at work and home. These skills are fundamental now. Without them, people are likely to fall behind their colleagues at work and get frustrated with the new ‘everyday tasks’ at home.
IT skills help adults achieve more at work and become more valuable to their employers. They also help adults feel better about themselves, at work and in the rest of their lives. That’s got to be a good thing.
Concerned about the IT Skills Gap in your business?
We’re government funded to provide digital literacy training so your business can make the most of technology. You don’t have to pay for the tuition, which means you can focus on supporting your staff to apply the learning into their everyday work life.
If you want to find out more about how you can upskill your staff – our digital capability webpage is the best place to start.