Locally, however, the uptake for the examinations leading to the licence is higher among those in school than those already in the workplace, according to Charles Wedd, New Zealand Computer Society Northern branch manager. Wedd says more New Zealand employers should be aware of the benefits of ICDL. “It is a slow process getting employers to seek the benefits of more computer literate and competent staff.”
The ICDL was launched in Europe nine years ago and became available in New Zealand in 2001.
Arthur Kebbell, managing director of Computing NZ, points out ICDL has become the benchmark in Europe for computer competence and a large number of employers have made it a mandatory requirement, even for entry-level staff. He cites as an example the National Health Service in the UK, in which 700,000 staff will take examinations by the end of 2005.
New Zealand employers, says Wedd, face a different situation because they have a “limited” corps of people from which to choose and may not have much option. Or they are likely to be unaware of the existence of the ICDL as a tool to prove computer skills.
Cost not primary factor
Wedd says cost is not the primary factor for the slow uptake because the course fees are “insignificant”, ranging from $200 to $1000 for specialised training, with many courses also offered for free.
The licence provides proof of potential employees’ computer literacy. Kebbell says this is important, because in most computer courses the students only receive an attendance certificate. “That doesn’t prove anything. What we want is evidence that people can actually use a computer. That’s what the ICDL is about – you can show it anywhere in the world.”
Steve Johansen, information systems manager, Port of Napier, says he would require “something a little higher than basic competence” for his IT staff. “We go for high competence and tend to recruit honours students with bachelors or masters degrees. I could understand much larger IT departments looking at it for juniors, perhaps.”
“After 22 years of dealing with IT, I’m more concerned that recruits can come to terms with how technology affects the commercial aims of the business,” adds Johansen.
There is one sector where the courses are being pursued. More than 60 inmates of the prison in Paremoremo, Auckland, have taken the courses, with an 80 per cent passing rate.
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