Basic Computer Classes Target Entry-Level Employees
Helene Robinson, a cook for the Medical Center, had always felt intimidated by computers. When computer access was required for online training or surveys, she felt embarrassed that she had to ask a co-worker for help.
“I had no clue,” she said. That began to change last fall, when the Medical Center began offering free, on-site basic computer classes for employees. Robinson quickly signed up.
“When they said computer class, I jumped right on it,” she said. Robinson was part of the first class offered at the Medical Center through a partnership between the Council of Inclusion and Diversity, Office of Workforce Planning and Development, and WinstonNet, a local non-profit community technology initiative.
A total of 65 employees have completed classes since the program was introduced at the Medical Center in September, and five additional classes are scheduled for winter/spring.
Funded by a stimulus grant, the classes target entry-level employees, with the goal of providing skill development that can lead to career advancement. In particular, the Council of Inclusion and Diversity hopes to address the over-representation of minorities in entry-level positions.
“To be able to participate fully in the modern world, one must have computer skills,” said Steven Block, Senior Associate Dean, who serves as co-chair for the Council. “This program has given many of our employees the opportunity to advance themselves in the workplace and socially.”
The class covers basic skills including how to use a keyboard and mouse, how to set up personal email, an introduction to Microsoft Office Suite and an overview of Internet functions and services. Participants also learn how to use PeopleSoft applications for Payroll and Human Resources functions. Those who complete the course have the opportunity to purchase a refurbished computer for as little as $25 if they don’t currently own a computer.
Since taking the course, Robinson now has a personal email account, a Facebook page, and has learned how to do online banking – a resource she didn’t realize was available until she took the class.
“I’ve learned a lot,” she said. “They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks – they’re wrong.”
Like Robinson, Tammy Owens had had no experience with computers before taking the class. She had a computer at home that her husband and daughter used it regularly, but she never felt comfortable sitting down at the keyboard.
“I was afraid I was going to hit the wrong button and tear the computer up,” said Owens, who works as a scheduling coordinator for the Cancer Center.
One word of advice given by the class instructor hit home: “She always said that we’re bigger than the mouse – don’t be scared of it,” Owens recalled. Now, Owens easily accesses email and online resources.
“I don’t have any fear of it,” she said. “I know that I can handle it.”