Gen Z was raised on tech; Gen X and millennials are digital natives, naturally they know their way around a laptop, right? But data reveals nearly one-third of Americans lack even the most rudimentary digital skills. Research from the National Skills Coalition found 13% of American workers have no digital skills and another 18% have only limited skills.

Details of the research finds 13% of workers could not meet any of these criteria:

  • Show any level of prior computer use;
  • Willingness to take a computer-based assessment;
  • Ability to complete four of six very basic computer tasks, like using a mouse or highlighting text on a screen.

Another 18% of workers could complete only the most basic digital tasks.Testing job applicants' computer skills

Although raised on technology, it’s clear that for many the ability to “face swap” on Instagram doesn’t translate to software such as Microsoft Office. SnapChat fluency doesn’t mean an applicant can use an Excel spreadsheet.   While we assume that most job seekers are app-proficient, many are computer illiterate when it comes to basic business software.

But most employers optimistically assume job seekers have some level of tech proficiency when they apply for work. Employers who utilize pre-employment tests and pre-employment assessments are certain. Whether it’s a computer skills test for applicants that focuses on commonly used tech, like Microsoft Office or Microsoft Excel, the only way to be confident the newest additions to staff are fluent in even the most basic computer software is through pre-employment tests.

Filling positions that utilize office software isn’t the only challenge for business. In almost every industry, some level of interaction with technology is necessary. Whether a warehouse worker leverages inventory control systems, or a medical technician uses sophisticated machinery, computers support almost all the work we do. The ability to use them, correctly and efficiently, is a necessary skill that cannot be assumed. The only way for business to verify job seekers have literacy, and at the level required, is through pre-employment testing and assessment.

Don’t assume internet literacy, either

More surprising is the amount of Americans who do not use the internet at all: 10% of Americans overall reveal they don’t. For workers 30 to 64, 15% admit they don’t use the web, according to a study by Pew Research. In a world where everything appears to be digital, it’s a mistake to assume applicants – even digital natives – are proficient with the technology that surrounds us.

“I can do it or learn it” mentality

Many applicants believe they have computer skills, but using Word to create a resume or turn in schoolwork doesn’t equal proficiency. Identifying an Excel spreadsheet doesn’t mean the candidate has the ability to create one. For business, a lack of these basic skill sets can mean costly training, downtime and errors.

Smartphone users may not be proficient in computer skills, and many aren’t even able to use the QWERTY keyboard. Some data suggests hunt and peck (two finger) typists may be able to type quickly, but can spend half their time looking at the keyboard, rather than their screen. This can impact productivity as well as accuracy.

Finding the computer literate

For business, the challenge is to find users who are able to apply via their smartphone in a manner of minutes but who also created their own correctly formatted resume in Microsoft Word. To do so, pre-employment skills testing is the only solution. Pre-employment assessments enable business to weed out the Instagram pros and hone in on the experts.

Why is this important?

Recruiting and hiring talent is a costly endeavor. Some estimates put the cost of a single new hire at $4,000 or more. Even for companies that hire only one employee per year, that cost can affect the bottom line. A small investment in pre-employment testing for technology skills can assure employers find qualified candidates every time. Confirming applicants have the skills needed to perform their work is critical to making the best hire for every open position.

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