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May 2001     Vol. 2, no. 5

Working with computers

Katherine Marshall

  • Almost 6 in 10 workers used a computer at their job in 2000, with the majority (78%) using one daily. A decade earlier only 3 in 10 workers were using computers.
  • Workers were significantly more likely to use a computer at work if they were under 55, had a high level of education or income, were an employee, worked full-time, or worked in a "high skill" or a clerical occupation.
  • Almost all workers used their computer for word processing (83%). Four other common purposes were data entry (72%), record keeping (69%), spreadsheets (63%), and the Internet (54%). Only 16% of workers reported using their computer for programming.
  • Women were more likely than men to use a computer at work, 60% compared with 54%. However, except for word processing, women were less likely to have performed all types of computer-related work.
  • The most common methods used by workers to acquire their computer skills were informal: trial and error (97%), help from co-workers (76%) and help from friends or family (76%).
  • Public employees used more methods to learn their computer skills (5.1) than private-sector employees (4.7) or the self-employed (4.0). Employer-sponsored classroom training was particularly common for public employees (68%) compared with those in the private sector (53%) or the self-employed (36%).


Katherine Marshall is with the Labour and Household Surveys Analysis Division. She can be reached at (613) 951-6890 or

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