Technology has a way of changing our lives, it changes the way we work, communicate and share information and it seems every time we turn on the news tech companies are announcing the latest breakthrough. With the rise of innovation however we often forget to ask ourselves, “What if we do not know how to use it?”
Of course, tech companies spend years focusing on their products usability and slight inconveniences can be the difference between a success and failure, but these measurements are generally geared towards a market that at least have some technological literacy. For those who have limited experience with a computer or smartphone there is often little these companies can do to make their products appeal to them. This may seem like a trivial issue however for companies focusing on social innovation, technological illiteracy could be a serious road block to getting their project off the ground and even the most experienced professionals could have trouble finding employment if they are unable to include basic computer skills on their resume.
In the United States 62% of jobs require the use of the internet and job availability for those who have no technological skills are continually decreasing. If society does not improve their computer literacy rates, we could be faced with severe unemployment from all demographics as computers and artificial intelligence programs start to outperform the human mind.
Many will point out that the younger generation is doing their part by being the biggest adopters of computers, smartphones and social media but adopting and computer literacy are unfortunately two very different things. This same generation that is glued to their smartphones not only have limited to no coding skills but have also limited knowledge on many computer skills that are already considered vital in performing many tasks on the job such as building spreadsheets that can analyze large volumes of critical data and preparing and designing presentations.
Already school districts throughout the world are including more computer based courses in the curriculum and while yes this is a challenge in countries where computer access could be challenging they are becoming available to more people and many of the most necessary computer skills do not require the latest technology to learn and companies like Google are providing online tools to help digitize the workforce.
It is time to see technological literacy as the new literacy and if countries don’t work to raise it they will fall behind this rapidly evolving economy and make it more difficult to embrace the technologies that can lift many out of poverty.
Black, C. (2015). Defining Technology Literacy: Skills Students Need for Personal and Professional Success. Concordia. Retrieved from https://online.cune.edu/defining-technology-literacy/
Buck, S. (2015). Game-changing Technology Is Not Enough. Sandford Social Innovation. Retrieved from https://ssir.org/articles/entry/game_changing_technology_is_not_enough
Ossowski, Y. (2016). Technological Literacy Is Doomed. HuffPost. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/yael-ossowski/technological-literacy-is-doomed_b_12669440.html
Simonite, T. (2017). Google Offers Help to Industries it Helps to Destroy. Wired. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/story/google-offers-help-to-industries-it-helps-to-destroy/
Simonite, T. (2017). Worried about Robots Taking your Job? learn spreadsheets. Wired. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/story/worried-about-robots-taking-your-job-learn-spreadsheets/