Half of Ireland ‘computer illiterates’

16 May 2008

ICT training company New Horizons is to run a series of basic computer training courses in Dublin during the summer in response to widespread computer illiteracy in the Irish population.

The company claimed nearly half the country has virtually no computer skills whatsoever, citing every day examples of parents asking their offspring to conduct routine tasks on the internet, such as booking flights and hotels and checking weather reports.

“The divide between technology savvy individuals and those in the other 50pc of the population is huge,” commented Liam McMahon, managing director, New Horizons Ireland. “The reasons are manifold as to why some people are being left out of the technology age; lack of education, lack of previous interest and lack of time are just a few.

“Even when the course was devised, there were challenges around the language used. When you have been working with computers your whole life and logging onto the internet is second nature, its challenging to create an accessible training course for total computer novices – words like PC, peripherals, components, download and portal are like a foreign language – we forget that sometimes.”

Supported by FÁS, the Equalskills computer course will be run from New Horizons’ office in Strand Street in Dublin. While the typical demographic is the over-40 age group, the company said it is seeing a significant amount of younger people who have no confidence with simple PC skills.

“It’s hard to imagine how intimidating a computer can be for a non-computer user,” said McMahon.

Equalskills has been designed as a flexible learning programme and was developed by ICS-Skills, the organisation responsible for the licensing of the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) in Ireland.

By Niall Byrne