Having even a basic understanding of ICT – Information and Communications Technology – can open up a lot more opportunities in the workplace, whether you’re working in a shop, an office or elsewhere in industry.
Most employers today expect their staff to be able to use a computer and, used well, technology is a tool that can empower you and help you succeed.
Along with English and maths, ICT qualifications are arguably the most important to be able to offer an employer.
What is ICT?
ICT is a system rather than one thing. It includes computers and other hardware, but also the software that runs on the computer, the data used and the staff who operate the system.
Where are ICT systems commonly used?
A large number of sectors rely on ICT systems, which is why having ITC skills on your CV can help you find a job.
To take a couple of examples:
Retail environment: a shop will use an ICT system to monitor the amount of stock that is brought in and also what gets sold. This makes it less likely that the shop will run out of an item as it can be reordered when stocks are shown to be low.
Food sector: a warehouse will use an ICT system to check on stock levels and movement; a factory will use it to regulate machinery; a haulier will use it to check on the status of deliveries.
What are the benefits of ICT systems?
Because they can manage, analyse and transmit large amounts of data, ICT systems can save time in the workplace and make us more productive.
ICT systems are used to analyse financial data, such as whether a company is making a profit or a loss and how much it earns from each customer, as well as managing staff wages.
They can also be used to control machinery, such as a robot making a part for a car, and can help create a safer work environment, especially in areas such as transportation and medicine.
Among other uses, they can help a company market itself, for example, creating a website and filling it with relevant content (information pages, images, video and blogs), or collecting a database of customers who can be emailed with company news and offers.
What hardware is used in ICT systems?
The most common hardware is the computer. Having a basic understanding of how to use a computer is a distinct advantage in the workplace. This may range from sending emails to more complex activities such as using a programme that monitors stock control, creating a spreadsheet to evaluate data, or using software such as CAD (computer aided design) to create graphic images.
Other hardware used in the workplace includes:
TVs and monitors
Jobs in ICT
While computers can now do some jobs that used to be carried out by people, the rise of the digital age has led to new careers that didn’t exist 30 years ago. These include:
Web designers and developers
Computer systems analysts
Mobile phone designers and salespeople
While an employer may not expect you to have prior experience of the specific hardware and software used in their business, having even basic ICT skills can help you win a job offer over another candidate who is not computer literate.