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Computer skills a necessity


The importance of information and communication technology (ICT) in organisational performance is something no organisation can exist without.

 As a result, employers are embarking on campaigns to further educate their employees in the field of Information Technology (IT).
Even Education Minister Naledi Pandor wants an infusion of IT throughout the education system for learners so they can be empowered, whilst still at school, to become victorious in a world where the proficient use of ICT is critically important.
“Employers are continually looking  for a packaged solution for complete computer literacy in a world where an IT qualification is the defacto standard in business success,” says Jennifer van Niekerk, CEO of the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL)  in South Africa.
Many employers are progressively relying on the ICDL programme saying it is the only initiative that offers them a solution to assist their employees.  Many are making the ICDL qualification mandatory in their organisations.
Van Niekerk said that after completing the ICDL, studies have proven that users can save time and money for their employers.  In addition, the ICDL has been shown to raise crucial IT proficiency levels, raise confidence in ICT use, provide internationally-recognised qualifications, improve job opportunities, job mobility and to provide a springboard from which to move on to higher-level IT education.
When one considers the average employee spends 38 minutes per day solving their own and other people's computer problems this equates to about three hours a week, or 12 hours a month, or about 20 days a year.  Multiply that by the number of employees in any organisation and that's a lot of wasted time and money.
“For those employees new to computers, the ICDL will provide you with a solid foundation of computer skills helping you to competently and confidently use computers and generally make you more proficient and more comfortable with using a computer,” van Niekerk says.
The programme comprises seven modules – basic concepts of Information Technology (IT); using a computer and managing files; word processing; spreadsheets; database; presentations and information and communications.  
“Obtaining the ICDL certification is not trivial – one requires commitment and dedication. The candidate has to pass all seven modules with a 75% pass mark,” says van Niekerk.
The ICDL programme is not a ‘training course’ but rather a capability yardstick that is recognised through testing. The ICDL is an online computer assessment which shows that you can use different IT programs.  All ICDL testing is automated, carried out on a Personal Computer (PC) and provides the candidate with instant marks.  As the test for each module is passed, an Accredited Test Centre will sign off that particular module in a logbook.
ICDL certification (known as the European Computer Driving Licence in Europe) is available in 150 countries globally and has been translated into 38 languages.  It is internationally recognised as the global standard in end-user computer skills and has been adopted by the international business community, international organisations and governments.
The ICDL in South Africa is a non-profit organisation established to promote digital literacy to all and to administer the global quality standard in end user computing.
To date Kwa-Zulu Natal has made the ICDL programme available to every computer educator throughout the province, the Western Cape Education Department is the most recent educational institute to enrol almost 100 of their Education Management and Development Centre (EDMC) staff on the programme, while Namibia has announced it will be compulsory for high school learners to do the ICDL programme as part of their syllabus, however this has not been done as yet.  
In addition, the South African Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has implemented the programme for many of their prisons offenders and the Department of Communications is in the process of sponsoring 2 000 unemployed candidates to participate in the programme through Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges.
“Many schools, ensuring their learners are ready for the competitive corporate environment when they leave school, are making the ICDL programme a compulsory part of their syllabus,” says van Niekerk.
The International Foundation recently celebrated issuing it 7-millionth candidate registration.