BBC News

BBC Give An Hour: Computer literacy campaign in East

By Richard Bond
BBC East Business Correspondent


Nearly four out of 10 older people in the Eastern region have never used the internet and according to employment experts, it is seriously hampering their chances of getting a job.

Research carried out by Gfk NOP found that 37% of people in the region aged 55 or over had no web experience - a little better than the national average of 42% but still a concern.

A BBC campaign, Give An Hour, aims to help those who have never used the internet.

The idea is that people who have "gained" an hour by the clocks going back can donate it by helping someone to go online.

Teresa Willson, 60, of Thetford in Norfolk, is currently claiming Jobseekers' Allowance.

She left her last job 18 months ago to look after her father. He died earlier this year and now Ms Willson is looking to get back into work, possibly working in an office.

Disadvantage in the job market

She admits her knowledge of the internet is sketchy, so she is doing a course through the Job Centre.

She said: "I was nervous getting on there (the internet). You do worry. You realise it's only a machine but you are afraid of it. I am more confident now."

The internet entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox said older people who were not web-aware were at a distinct disadvantage in the jobs market.

She said: "Twenty five per cent of jobs need internet skills and another 50% of people are more likely to get a job if they have internet skills. In addition, you are more likely to find a job if you are online because more jobs are advertised online."

Even something as basic as a CV needs to be put together on a computer, according to recruitment consultant Lizzie Coltman, of EC Resourcing in Cambourne, Cambridgeshire.

She said: "It's really important that your CV is correct because it is representing you to a potential employer. You need to do the CV on a computer. It needs to be laid out correctly and formatted correctly."

For the rest of this week there will be coverage on your BBC Local Radio station of how gaining computer skills has helped to change people's lives.

If you know someone who needs assistance, or if would like to give your time to helping others to get online, the details are on the BBC website.

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