Leveraging the Microsoft Office Specialist Certification: a Case for Computer Literacy
Last month, the Chicago Board of Education voted unanimously that starting with the class of 2021, students will have a new graduation requirement.
By the end of the decade, high schoolers will be required to take some amount of computer science in order to get their high school diploma. The signals are all around us: lacking a foundation of computer literacy is no longer an option. The past two and a half decades have seen the personal computer move from becoming a new tool in the business environment to becoming an essential component of the home. Governments at all levels are increasingly moving their services onto online mediums. Where in years past people would stand in line at the Driver and Motor Vehicle licensing offices for hours at a time, now the average person can renew their car’s license plate in less than 10 minutes online. In such a world, not being able to navigate the computer landscape has gone from being just a nuisance to putting people at a disadvantage.
Many users still struggle with just the basic and often imperfect understanding of the program that they use on a day-to-day basis. Companies, on the other hand, are often looking for workers who have advanced knowledge of the tools that are employed in order to ensure that their work force is the most efficient possible. In the corporate environment users are expected to be proficient in a number of programs from word processing to emails to analysis and even research. That said, employers of all sizes struggle with ways to identify new employees that have the skills needed to make the most effective use of their tools before being hired. Microsoft has long had a program available for this that is often underutilized by the business community.
For more than the past decade a handful of employers have had a slight edge when it came to hiring people who had the knowledge to streamline their basic office operation. The Microsoft Office Specialist certification is a tool that has been used to quickly gauge an employee’s understanding of one of the most ubiquitous suite of tools found in today’s corporate environment. The certification allows prospective employees to demonstrate that they have the skills needed to get the most out of Microsoft Office. Many government agencies in North America make it a requirement for any job that involves data entry, communications, analysis, or research. Employers know that the potential hires have demonstrated their knowledge through the certification process to be able to work more efficiently, come up with novel solutions using the advanced features of the programs at their disposal, and reduce IT costs resulting from unnecessary calls to help desk.