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The results of a study released this week confirms what the world's BOFHs and sysadmins have known for ages: that users are a dangerous menace who should not be allowed near anything more advanced than a fridge.

A staggering one in seven technologically challenged employees needs help even switching their computers on and off, according to research commissioned by City & Guilds.

The UK vocational awarding body's study of 405 random UK financial directors revealed that, despite the fact that PCs have been around for over thirty years, getting to grips with the devices is totally beyond many British office workers. A fifth were found to struggle to save a document, more than one in five need assistance printing, while a quarter cannot understand a spreadsheet.

City & Guilds pointed out that, apart from greatly reducing productivity, this lack of IT proficiency is causing IT support cost to sky-rocket as beleaguered BOFHs struggle to distribute some clue to their gormless users.

British companies, according to the study, are forced to fork out an average of £49,000 per year for additional IT support to bolster this skills shortfall. Despite three quarters of businesses having in-house IT staff, a fifth admitted they cannot handle all technical problems internally with a third reliant on external support or helpdesks, and more than a quarter employing IT contractors.

Additionally the poll indicated that the nation's businesses are losing an average 312 employee hours as a result of technical incompetence.

According to City & Guilds, a lamentable lack of even basic IT training is one of the main problems. One in five firms responding to the study admitted employees have only basic IT skills and over one in ten said their workers have no IT qualifications at all. The problem is apparently compounded by the fact that more than one in 10 employers state that IT skills are non-essential when hiring recruits. ®

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