Guide

IT skills and support for your staff

Different types of IT skills

There are many different types of information technology (IT) skills. Generally, they can be classified as:

  • Application-oriented skills – these are skills needed to work effectively with application software packages, such as Microsoft Office suite. Applications also include more complex software, such as accounts, computer-aided design, graphic design etc.
  • Development skills - these are skills used to create or modify computer systems. This includes programming and database design. These types of skills require a good knowledge of how computer systems work. IT staff working in development have often completed a course in higher education to equip them for this role.
  • Operations skills - these skills are needed to keep your IT systems and infrastructure working effectively and securely. These also require in-depth knowledge and experience of computer systems.

In most businesses, the majority of employees only require application-oriented IT skills.

Application-oriented skills

Application-oriented skills depend on the type of package that you use. Typical business applications include:

  • word processing
  • spreadsheets
  • presentation graphics - ie producing slides for a presentation
  • databases - usually simple lists of data such as customer names and addresses
  • email - including the use of calendars for booking and attending meetings

In order to use applications effectively, your staff need to understand some basic concepts such as:

  • files and the commands for working with them, such as 'copy' and 'paste'
  • the security rules that apply to computer use within the organisation, including the use of passwords

The best way to determine if your staff have the skills they need to perform their job efficiently is to carry out an IT training and learning needs analysis.

For best practice on analysing and identifying training requirements in your business, see how to identify staff training needs.