UCL News


UCL in the News: The role of computer literacy in skills pinch

14 December 2007

Richard Pettinger (UCL Management Science & Innovation), 'Computer Weekly' For the past 20 years or more, the UK has had skills shortages.

By common consent, this also applies to computer science and IT, and all of the skills, qualities and capabilities that go with this discipline. The generation of children that has grown up using computers since they could walk is perceived as being computer-illiterate. …

So the debate moves on to what we might call "effective computer capability". …

From a computer science point of view, effectiveness relates to the perfection and capability of the technology itself. From a project management point of view, this is to do with the completion and delivery of the technology to the client's specification and satisfaction. From an individual and collective capability point of view, this is to do with delivering one's own part of the overall project and output as efficiently as possible. …

There must be a much greater knowledge and understanding of what technology is to deliver in terms of enduring profitability and effectiveness.

Closely related is managerial and leadership expertise, especially in the field of project management. The discipline of project management ought to become a recognised profession, if for no other reason than the sheer cost of projects, the elements of risk, and the critical nature of cost and benefit evaluation.

None of this will be easy, quick or cheap to deliver. But if we can agree to settle down and do it, we are all going to have a much clearer understanding of what we are going to be asking of present and future generations in terms of genuine computer and technology literacy.