IT-challenged executives polish their skills

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John Greenhalgh, chairman of City of London PR, says: &quotThere is a skills gap, because most senior people do not have time to catch up with the latest technology.&quot

Greenhagh completed a part-time basic IT training course at Banner Duncan Associates, the IT training company based in the City of London. He paid for six sessions spread over six weeks, a couple of hours at a time.

The company offers tailor-made courses to suit individual needs, and on a one-to-one basis - which it says many senior executives prefer.

Executives typically want to brush up their skills on using spreadsheets, and Microsoft PowerPoint for presentations. They often need instructions on how to use email properly as well, for those unavoidable occasions when their secretary is stuck in the tube on the way to work and there is an important message waiting.

Increased use of laptops at home, and greater sharing of secretaries between several senior executives, have meant that IT skills are more vital than ever.

Andrew Cummins, managing director of the venture capital fund, CVC AsiaPacific, completed a two-day, one-to-one course in Microsoft PowerPoint at Banner Duncan a year ago,

He says: &quotThey taught me how to use it efficiently - it speeds you up, and you also realise that there are 1,000 more things you can do with it.

&quotSenior executives are increasingly aware that they need to do so as it will increase their productivity, and help them understand what their staff are doing and how much time is needed to complete a job&quot, he adds.

John Duncan, chairman of Banner Duncan Associates, says: &quotUsing a computer has become an essential part of senior management. They have got to learn how to access emails and use spreadsheets. The younger generation tend to be more computer literate so the older ones have to play catch up.&quot

The company's clients include investment banks, insurance brokers, and motor industry, marketing and water companies.

Mervyn King, deputy governor of the Bank of England, completed the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) at Banner Duncan last year. This was part of the bank's initiative to encourage its entire staff to achieve a certification of computer skills. The course was seen as giving all-round competence.

The ECDL qualification covers basic concepts of IT, using a computer and managing files, word processing, spreadsheets, databases/filing systems, presentation and drawing, and information network services.

The British Computer Society promotes and manages ECDL in the UK. Banner Duncan courses are 300 (€493) for a half-day and 600 for a full day.