Just How Many People Can Touch Type?

According to research, less than 20% of people can touch type fluently.

So, although we are living in a digital age with computers all around us, and with the main method of inputting data in the UK being a keyboard, the majority of 80% of people are still using the hunt and peck method for typing! This means looking up and down at the keyboard to type or in so many cases, just staring constantly at the keyboard as they type!

It goes without saying that second to being able to speak, the most essential skill these days is to be able to communicate. And touch typing is a digital skill that allows people to do just that. So why aren’t more people able to touch type or learning how to do it?

Why don’t more people know how to touch type?

Perhaps it’s because it’s too hard to learn, or takes too long or people just feel they are OK ‘getting by’. Or perhaps they learnt at school but just let the skill slip.

In the UK, back in the 50s, touch typing was taught as a subject for predominantly girls who were looking to learn secretarial skills for employment. In the US, keyboarding skills were more likely to be taught to a wider range of students. Certainly, more so than here in the UK. But now it seems to be out of favour, with many young people just muddling on by with their own style of typing.

If you are one of those lucky people that did learn to touch type at school, you are certainly in a minority. And I’m sure you look back and feel thankful that you did learn even if you didn’t feel so keen to do so at the time!

Why is touch typing not taught in schools?

According to Laura Smith from London Grid for Learning, she is keen for schools to promote touch typing. The pandemic highlighted the need for digital skills except post Covid, nothing has really changed.

These days if a school offers their pupils the opportunity to learn how to touch type, it is usually a lesson that is shoe horned into an after school activity or lunch time club meaning that’s it’s often short term, optional, or a hit and miss. Quite often there is no expert supervision so children can easily get into bad habits even if they are following an online course with visual instruction.

Often students don’t finish the touch type course or their practice isn’t regimented enough for it to become embedded into long term muscle memory. So they end up not learning the skill properly and reverting back to their old hunt and peck method of typing.

Despite the younger generation being raised surrounded by computers and digital technology, it does bring into question why it’s being ignored as an important skill to learn.

I think the problem stems from educators (and often parents), assuming that because young people are tech savvy, they already have good keyboarding skills. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. They ‘get by’ by hunting and pecking, which although on the surface can look pretty fast, their typing is often peppered with errors. They then join the workplace with a method of typing which is neither efficient or productive.

In the UK, while the Department for Education say learning to touch type is encouraged as a part of computer literacy, there is still no specific reference to it on the state curriculum. Education programs are often overloaded and neither pupils or their parents have the time to think about learning an additional skills like computer typing. In parent’s minds there is an idea that all the important things and skills, children already learn in the school.

Other than in Germany where primary sschool children are taught to touch type as part of ICT, there doesn’t seem to be any compulsory need to learn how to touch type in any other European country.

This laissez-faire attitude needs to change and schools have to find the time to fit touch typing into the school curriculum. In the same way that children are taught how to hold a pen and make marks on paper as a pre cursor to handwriting skills, as soon as children start using digital devices to produce written content, they should learn how to touch type.

If touch typing under expert supervision is not part of the curriculum in primary schools, what kind of other opportunities do young people have to learn how to touch type under supervision? There are commercial programs which can replace a teacher supervision, but it requires huge motivation and discipline from the learner.

What is the average typing speed for most computer users?

Average typing speeds for computer users using just a few fingers hunting and pecking is 33 words per minute, which is pretty slow. An average touch typist using all ten fingers without looking at the keyboard can reach speeds between 50-70wpm, almost twice as fast as someone who cannot touch type. More work in less time!

This may not seem a big difference on a minute by minute basis, but the time saving soon adds up. So for example, if you had to write 10 emails a day for work, it might take two hours to type these based on a rate of around 30wpm. It would take only an hour to write the same emails if you were a touch typer with a speed of 55wpm.

This adds up for a full hour of extra time every day! This equates to over 25 saved days EVERY year!

How touch typists think differently

Knowing how to touch type allows you to have a clear state of mind and because there is no need to look at the keyboard, concentration can be directed at the content of what you are writing and not on the writing process itself.

We call this cognitive automaticity; which is the ability to do things without conscious attention or awareness. Tt takes the burden away from our working memory. It gives the brain more time for higher order thinking, free to focus on ideas without having to waste mental energy trying to find certain keys on the keyboard.

The importance of touch typing in the workplace

According to many HR experts, touch typing is an essential skill in the workplace. It is a real tool that together with other competencies, can be used in any future job. The highest level of efficiency is expected in the workplace which includes speed and accuracy in their work. Almost every job requires some kind of computer work or data entry and there is no doubt that touch typing is still the most successful and efficient way to enter data.

As well as speed being a huge benefit in the workplace, touch typers make less errors because as well as being more accurate generally, they can correct their mistakes immediately as they are typing. This is important for any jobs where you have to be accurate such as in law, medicine and many other industries.

With this in mind, touch typing is now gaining importance as an essential skill to have in the workplace. Everyone should know how to type fast – but unfortunately this is a skill that only a minority possesses.

At Type IT! we truly believe touch typing is an essential 21st-century skill for both adults and children alike. And the earlier it is learned, the better.

Check out our range of touch typing courses to see which would suit your needs and enable you to learn how to type faster and enroll online. Alternatively, give us a call on 020 3962 2059  to have a friendly chat about how we can help you!

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