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The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL)


The British Computer Society (BCS) have blitzed the media with its latest advertising campaign about the benefits of a Europe-wide qualification, the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL). This campaign was targetted at the national press as well as specialist IT and HR publications.

However, having spoken with a further education centre that have been offering the ECDL for the last two years, stated that the BCS were not advertising in the correct publications for example, those audiences reading specialist IT newspapers would not necessarily be the ones that would be interested in undertaking the ECDL therefore they are missing a whole audience that they should have targetted instead. The spokesperson stated that the benefits of completing an ECDL have already been sold and that there is a huge audience already participating in this as a recognised IT qualification. The problems are of attracting those audiences in local areas to attend local centres and by using local newspapers rather than national ones would have achieved a far higher success rate.

Peter Bayley the deputy director at the BCS stated that the beauty of ECDL is that it is open to everyone - regardless of age, education, experience or background. I would tend to disagree with this, having been involved with the delivery of the ECDL. For those people who are complete novices to computers (and believe me, there are still many out there) it has become apparant that some form of introductory training is still necessary, whether it be programs such as the CD-ROM Computers Don't Bite or another qualification such as the OCR (RSA) Computer Literacy and Information Technology Certification Stage I, or the City & Guilds offerings of 212, 404, or the 4242. This is not always made obvious to those people who are looking for some form of qualification in IT and that go forward for the ECDL.

There are many areas of overlapping, however, the ECDL does appear to assume a basic knowledge before anyone seriously undertakes this qualification that the other aforementioned qualifications may be more appropriate as they appear to suit those who need a qualification at a lower level than that of the ECDL.

This is not to say that the ECDL is not a worthwhile qualification at all, it certainly is especially as it appears more recognised world-wide than any of the other qualifications, however, how many people would this necessarily affect having european-wide status and again, how many people would this be of benefit to? Would there not only be language (as in spoken) problems as well?

The ECDL is made up of seven modules, and the qualification is completed on a modular basis, therefore each must be passed before a certification of competence is awarded. The seven topics are:

  • Basic concepts of IT
  • Using the computer and managing files
  • Word-processing
  • Spreadsheets
  • Databases
  • Presentations
  • Information and communication

There are over 950 accredited training centres in the UK and more than 86,000 registered candidates. World-wide there are more than 750,000 candidates in more than 20 countries.

The other qualifications appear to cover three main modules, those being:

  • Word-processing
  • Spreadsheets and
  • Databases

They also have a modular approach and completion of these three assessments would go towards a certificate of competence upon completion.

If you have your own views about the ECDL or you know of other qualifications worth a mention, please add your comments at the bottom of this article.


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