Most S'pore residents not infocomm literate

Fifty-three percent of the residential population on the island are non-infocomm literate, says the Info-communications Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).

SINGAPORE--Fifty-three percent of the residential population on the island are non-infocomm literate, says the Info-communications Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).

In a statement today, the IDA defined the non-infocomm literate as "those who do not know how to use, or who know how to use, but are not using infocomm applications and services". These applications and services include online transactions such as e-learning, Internet shopping and banking, and downloading entertainment software.

It conducted a survey titled The 2000 Infocomm Literacy Survey, which covered a sample size of 2,000 randomly selected Singaporeans and permanent residents, aged between 15 and 69 years.

The interviews were conducted between February and March this year via telephone.

The IDA said that the objective of its survey was to examine the level of infocomm literacy and savviness among the population, as well as to gauge their e-business savvy in the usage of infocomm applications and services.

When asked if the IDA was concerned about the high non-infocomm level here, its deputy director (Manpower Development) Lo Yoong Khong said: "Close to one in two of the residential population are already infocomm literate. That is a good figure to start off with given such a stringent definition and as we move towards a knowledge-based economy."

He was speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the release of the survey findings.

The survey showed that the non-infocomm literate people tend to be older--with 33 percent of them aged 50 years and above. Seventy-six percent of the non-IT savvy were married, 91 percent had children, 36 percent lived in one- to three-room Housing and Development Board flats, and 92 percent were not attending infocomm courses.

The proportion of non-infocomm literates tends to increase with age and, conversely, to decrease with the level of education. For instance, 45 percent of those between the ages of 30 and 39 years were non-infocomm literate, compared with 70 percent in the 40-49 age group. Thirty-one percent of "A" level holders were non-infocomm literate, compared with 10 percent of degree or postgraduate degree holders.

The survey also revealed that 47 percent of the population were infocomm literate, which means that they know how to use, and be competent in, at least one online transaction, such as e-filing or Internet shopping.

Sixty-six percent of the population used the PC, making it the most popular infocomm appliance. This was followed by 10 percent for personal digital assistants, 8 percent for wireless application protocol phones and 3 percent for Web TV.

In terms of Internet activities, 55 percent of the population used email, making it the most commonly used activity. The next two activities that were most frequently used were information retrieval (47 percent) and online news and entertainment (41 percent).

Infocomm training framework
Meanwhile, the IDA also announced today a five-level Infocomm Training Framework, which are programs aimed at identifying and addressing the infocomm training needs of different segments of the population.

IDA assistant director (Workforce Training) Minlie Wong told reporters at a press briefing that level one of the framework is targeted at the masses to equip them with "basic infocomm literacy skills to enable lifelong learning and improve their quality of life". The skill sets at this level include using the Internet and conducting e-commerce transactions.

Levels two and three are targeted at the workforce to "enhance the workforce competitiveness with infocomm skills and knowledge". She said the skills imparted at level two include Web page design, using the Internet and e-commerce transactions.

The third level of the framework is targeted at non-infocomm professionals to equip them with e-business development and management skills to enhance a company's competitiveness.

Level four is aimed at helping existing professionals embark on careers in strategic infocomm sectors. The skills at this level include Web design, multimedia and programming.

Wong said the fifth level is to help infocomm professionals acquire "emerging, critical and specialized infocomm skills", which include e-business development, infocomm planning, multimedia and project management to compete in the knowledge-based economy.