Information technology skills in the workplace: Implications for Bachelor of Arts degrees
AbstractChanging work practices have increased demands for information technology (IT) skills within non-IT professions. Many employers want experience in desktop publishing, spreadsheets, and Internet skills, in addition to the 'traditional' areas of file management, word processing and databases. The demand for these skills was evident in our survey of Bachelor of Arts graduates with a Computing Studies major. However, whether workplace needs are being met by non-IT tertiary degrees, such as the BA, is open to investigation. Therefore this paper proposes a re-thinking of computer literacy in BA degrees to a two-tier competence. It also seeks to promote discussion and debate on the integration of advanced IT skills into higher education, with a particular emphasis on BA degrees. Barriers to effective IT integration include technical issues, lack of training and incentives for staff, students' unpredictable IT skill level on entry to tertiary education, and their access to resources. The discussion is limited to administrative and teaching careers, as these were the dominant non-IT career choices of BA graduates in our survey. However, the issues related to the integration of IT across discipline areas in higher education to satisfy the needs of the workplace are quite generic. If the IT skills demanded by employers are to be supplied, then a higher priority needs to be placed on IT skills of academic staff, and on integrating advanced IT skills across and within the teaching and learning framework for students in tertiary education.
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