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Passport to success; Never touched a computer before? Or maybe you're quite competent, but don't have any paperwork to prove it. Whether you're a total beginner or a bit of an expert, there's an IT qualification that's right for you.

I.T. KNOWLEDGE and skills, the ability to use computers, surf the net and send e-mails is an established part of today's society.

The modern business simply can't function in the hi-tech, fast-moving world without staff who have IT skills.

As the national body for qualifications in Scotland, the Scottish Qualifications Authority is responsible for the development, accreditation, assessment and certification of all Scottish education and training qualifications other than degrees and some professional qualifications.

There is a wide range of IT-related qualifications on offer from the SQA, including National Qualifications (NQs), usually undertaken in school, and Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) delivered through further education colleges.

For those already in employment, the newly-accredited Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) in Using IT offer up-to-date skills essential within the workplace and ensure the quality and flexibility that SVQs deliver.

SVQs are work-based qualifications based on national standards of competence.

The new SVQs are suitable for the general workforce in all industry sectors and can be tailored to meet the needs of an individuals' job.

Also recently launched is PC Passport, a new and exciting suite of qualifications that gives all kinds of IT users the skills they need.

PC Passport is perfect for a wide and varied candidate market: from complete beginners who have never touched a computer to people who want to improve their existing knowledge to get recognition for skills they've already got.

Available at three levels - beginner, intermediate and advanced - PC Passport is a flexible, inclusive scheme.

Each level is made up of National Units covering topics such as word processing, spreadsheets, databases, presentations and the internet.

The beginner course is designed for the absolute novice. There are three units at this level: word processing, spreadsheets and internet.

The intermediate course is intended for more competent users and focuses on the key skills required in the modern workplace: word processing, spreadsheets, internet and presentations.

The advanced level is for those whose experience of IT makes them comfortable with technology - the sort of person that co-workers will come to for help. In addition to the four intermediate level topics, these candidates also complete a unit on databases.

It is important that employers and managers can calculate the value of courses and qualifications that they make available to staff in line with employee development programmes.

It is also crucial to be able to make sense of the range of qualifications that potential employees hold.

The SQA is a partner in a 'credit' system called the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF).

This system helps employers and managers alike to quickly understand the credit value of the multitude of awards available in Scotland.

The framework has 12 levels: from level 1 for very basic education to level 12 for postgraduate qualifications.

All three levels of PC Passport are positioned on the SCQF framework - the beginner course at SCQF level 4, intermediate at level 5 and advanced at level 6.

PC Passport courses are highly vocational, focusing on industry standard software and skills.

However, they are not directly related to a specific software manufacturer - instead they seek to teach transferable skills that can be used in a range of environments. All levels focus on practical skills and PC Passport can be delivered in training centres and the workplace.

There are several ways businesses and organisations can develop staff through PC Passport.

They can establish a partnership with a college or private training provider, or alternatively they can apply to the SQA to be an approved centre and deliver PC Passport in-house.

PC Passport has simple resource requirements. Most centres that are set up to deliver IT training and qualifications should find PC Passport straightforward to implement and deliver.

Who needs a PC passport?

# School pupils who want to gain vocational skills# College students who want to acquire IT skills to complement their main field of study# Pre-university students who want a short IT course prior to commencing university# Unemployed people who want to improve their employability# Employees who want to enhance their IT skills or gain certification for their existing skills# Professionals as part of their continued professional development# Retired people who want to learn to use computers and the internetCLEVER MOVE: Benefit from a PC Passport

To find out more about any of these qualifications, log on to the SQA website at or phone our Customer Contact Centre on0845 279 1000or e-mail:
COPYRIGHT 2004 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 19, 2004
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