Computer driving course attracts govt users

New Zealand's implementation of the International Computer Driving Licence appears to be going great guns, with about 9000 people taking the course or passing it to date.

New Zealand’s implementation of the International Computer Driving Licence appears to be going great guns, with about 9000 people taking the course or passing it to date.

The ICDL is a competency standard for computer literacy administered by Computing NZ, a subsidiary of the New Zealand Computer Society. It is said to be running in more than 140 countries.

Most of the candidates are in schools, but there has been a notable pick-up in government departments, including Land Information NZ and the Fire Service. Tauranga District Council has made it compulsory for all employees working with IT to take the course, says Arthur Kebbell, who manages the scheme in New Zealand, and a number of other councils have adopted it as a useful way of ensuring new recruits’ IT skills and knowledge are up to par.

The licence gives employees an opportunity to gain an internationally recognised qualification, says Tauranga council information systems manager Robyn Dines. At the same time, it enables the council to “really make full use of the technology infrastructure".

It is important that everyone who works there is comfortable with the technology, she says. Comfort and competence, as well as raising their productivity, lowers their stress levels.

Another benefit is that the course is administered in partnership with the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, so council employees become students of the polytechnic and can take advantage of the discounts that go with that status.

Training material for the licence course is provided online at the council or on take-home CD-ROMs.

If take-up follows the pattern established overseas, acceptance of the test will soon move on to private organisations, Kebbell says.

The test consists of seven modules:

  • basic concepts of IT
  • using the computer and managing files
  • word processing
  • spreadsheet
  • database
  • presentation
  • information and communication.
The skills taught are not Microsoft-specific, Kebbell claims, though he acknowledges all the tests so far performed in New Zealand have been on Microsoft-equipped PCs. There is a movement within New Zealand to have more done on Apple Macintosh. “Agnostic” applications like Lotus Notes and Groupwise are beginning to be included.

There has been no demand for Linux-based testing in this country yet, Kebbell says, but this is certainly creeping in internationally, with most of the pressure coming from Germany.

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