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Consulting on revised standards for IT User skills August 28, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in goverment.
Tags: , , ,

E-Skills UK, the sector skills council for IT and Telecoms (!) have recently revised their standards and consultation is currently open until 26th Sept. Here’s a paragraph which came with the email:

Why is this so important?  Well, put simply, these Standards define the levels of IT skills relevant both for the workforce and those seeking employment. They underpin the majority of IT user qualifications and government funded IT User training.  Making them sufficiently comprehensive and ensuring they address the right skills means better IT skills for all and a better workforce for businesses.

Which is well and good….but…. My personal take on these standards and qualifications differ slightly to the direction E-skills are taking. I think there are problems with these approaches to such standards. The traditional approaches cannot keep up to date with the rapidly evolving world of IT. I think a different approach is required. An approach which doesn’t see progression getting bogged down with fussing over whether a user is competent at “planning and reviewing their use of predefined or commonly used IT tools for work activities most of which are complex and non-routine.” (taken from the IPU Improving productivity using IT, level 3). When the outcomes are so restricted and rarely allow for flexibility, users invariably see the task simply as that.. a task. They don’t question why or look at other options, and most importantly, they don’t follow their own routes and start using IT for their own goals. Such standards and qualifications restrict, they don’t allow freedom.. and they way the whole IT thing is changing so quickly, that freedom is essential to make the most out what’s going on today and in the future.

IT, and more specifically, the Internet, is fast evolving into a tool that seems to be transcending the shackles for standardisation and qualification, or perhaps it needs a different approach, possibly a more holistic approach, to recognise the skills gained.

There’s a lot of chat about the “digital divide” and so long as users continue to be assessed for being competent by demonstrating they can: ” Use correct procedures to start and shutdown an IT system” [UIS1:1.1] will only help deepen that divide.


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