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Last Updated: Friday, 14 December 2007, 12:01 GMT
Computer knowledge 'undervalued'
The UK is looking to address a shortfall in workplace skills
Computer skills are still undervalued in the UK board room, according to software giant Microsoft.

It surveyed 500 UK business leaders and found that a knowledge of information technology (IT) was seen as the seventh most important workplace skill.

Instead, team working and interpersonal skills were seen as the core factors, followed by initiative.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said IT skills were needed from the shop floor to the chief executive.

'Share ideas'

"One of the most important changes of the last 30 years is that digital technology has transformed almost everyone into an information worker," said Mr Gates.

A solid working knowledge of productivity software has become a basic foundation for success in virtually any career
Bill Gates

"In almost every job now, people use software and work with information to enable their organisation to operate more effectively."

Yet in an article written for the BBC News website, he added that team work was also a core requisite for success in the software industry.

"Software innovation, like almost every other kind of innovation, requires the ability to collaborate and share ideas with other people, and to sit down and talk with customers and get their feedback and understand their needs," he said.

In third place in the survey behind team working and initiative, came analysing and problem solving.

This was followed by verbal communication, personal planning and organising and flexibility.

Skills gap

Microsoft's survey was conducted to mark the first anniversary of the Leitch report into overcoming the skills gap in the UK economy.

1. Team working and interpersonal skills
2. Initiative
3. Analysing and problem solving
4. Verbal communication
5. Personal planning and organising
6. Flexibility
7. IT skills
Source: Microsoft

Lord Leitch's review in December 2006 set out recommendations to help the UK become a world leader in skills by 2020, and overcome a skills shortage that has threatened to undermine its credentials as an economic powerhouse.

The review suggested the establishment of a new Commission for Employment & Skills, and said that employers should have a greater say in training schemes and more responsibility for improving skills in the workplace.

According to some estimates, as many as 6.8 million adults in the UK lack basic qualifications, and have skills needs in numeracy, literacy and information technology.

The government is taking steps to redress the situation and has started an advertising campaign that is aimed at encouraging people to upgrade their skills through education and training.

It plans to spend 20m over three years on TV, print and poster adverts aimed at persuading people of their natural ability to succeed.

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