Business Technology

Office workers find it increasingly harder to learn new software

3 min read

04 January 2016

Former deputy editor

With an ongoing skills gap, you may think the British workforce would like to learn new things, but 25 per cent of office workers believe it's increasingly more difficult to learn new software as time passes on.

The study from accountancy firm MHA MacIntyre Hudson found that getting familiar with changing technologies can be compared to something of an unloved household chore.

Results found that middle-aged and older workers struggle the most. Four in ten people aged in their fifties consider it challenging to keep up with new developments and a quarter of those in their thirties and fifties are also finding it difficult to stay up to speed.

In September, exam board AQA introduced Tech-levels in order to provide more variety to youngsters planning to move into further education. Courses include business marketing, design engineering, IT networking and more, all with a view to fight the UK’s skills gaps.

“These new qualifications are on an equal footing with A-levels, and we believe employers will start making them a job requirement because they know they’ll guarantee the right knowledge and skills,” said Carole Bishop, AQA’s head of technical and vocational qualifications.

However, MHA’s study also revealed that even younger office workers in their twenties believe it’s getting harder to remain knowledgable about new software. Some 15 per cent of respondents in their mid-twenties to early thirties admitted it’s something of a battle.

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Overall, almost half of office workers from all age groups would prefer software firms to make fewer updates to products they already understand. On the other hand, 40 per cent said learning new software was easier because they’re already experienced software users.

Jason Mitchell, partner at MHA MacIntyre Hudson, said: “Good training that treats all staff as individuals goes a long way in helping them learn software packages and reduces the resistance to learning that, according to our research, increases with age.

“Encouragingly, most of the people we spoke to felt that they could master new software but they wanted to do this over time and not be under pressure to be ‘instant experts’.

“We found that people overwhelmingly prefer hands-on learning from practical demonstrations rather than lecture-style training. And they wanted to be allowed the time to experiment and learn at their own pace after formal training sessions. No one wanted to be labelled as an expert after a single software training event.”

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