Computer Skills Certification - a Guide in IT Skills Development
Every now and then we can still see an item in the requirements section of some vacancies that goes as something like “Excellent skills of using a computer” or “Adequate skills of working on a computer”. “What IS excellent skills of using a computer?” one would ask and very rightfully so. And how does it differ from “adequate” level? And even more importantly – how do you measure these skills?
These and similar questions were just one of the numerous reasons to trigger the initiation of the project “UzCDL” – development of system that certifies computer literacy of people. Despite its European analogues, the system has nevertheless been developed from zero to a shape it has taken to this date – a fully operational system that gives people a standardized point of reference and allows them to determine their level of computer knowledge, literacy and skills. Having been in the process of careful development since 2007, the system has finally been launched in September of 2008 with technical assistance provided by UNDP in Uzbekistan.
With supply creating demand being a frequent observation in the market when it comes to innovations, presentation of the system to the population of Uzbekistan has made it clear to many, both individuals and organizations, that necessity for it has long been there, but the idea and solution has been far beyond reach. Not only does certification gives the management of organizations a better picture of how well prepared and competent their employees are in terms of the tomorrow’s demand for skills, but also it gives an excellent opportunity for people to lean on a reference point identified by qualified experts, establish for themselves their learning needs, and means to bring their existing knowledge to a more systematic shape.
“This has been a great opportunity for all the employees in our organization” says Safarova Feruza, Head of Staff Training and Retraining Department at Communications and Information Agency of Uzbekistan, referring to experience of her colleagues in taking UzCDL tests. “Benefits are various. Our administrators have been substantially freed from very frequent IT-related requests, usually of a basic nature, from all other colleagues. Now most of our colleagues solve their IT-based matters for themselves. This saved time and money for our organization, and considerably increased productivity. In addition, we all had a very good chance to have a theoretical and hands-on experience working with Office 2007, which is new for all of us”.
One of the most obvious evidences of Uzbekistan Government’s full comprehension of importance of this initiative has come as an approval of the system by the Coordination Council for Computerization and ICT Development and its special directive from 2009 requiring all the administrative staff of organizations within the Communication Agency to take UzCDL tests. Since then around 2000 people from various organizations of the IT sector, such as Communications and Information Agency of Uzbekistan, UzInfocom Centre, UNICON.UZ Centre, Alskom Insurance Company, Uzbektelekom National operator, Tashkent affiliate of “Uzbekiston Pochtasi” Co., Tashkent University of Information Technologies, and others have taken the UzCDL tests
“Even though UzCDL is a testing and certification system,” says Bokhodir Ayupov, Task Manager on Capacity Development of “ICT Policy” project, “its aim of uttermost importance lays in creating the necessity and a worthy reason for people to increase their computer literacy through attending various IT learning centers. A worker who attempts and passes the UzCDL tests is one joy for us, but people who fail and decide to take specialized training and prepare better to try again– are the ones of a higher interest for us. Statistics to this date show that 47% of all the candidates who sat for tests have passed them. This is a good indicator for us that the difficulty level of our tests is very adequate”.
To this date there are 6 testing centers in Tashkent and one in Navoi, while in other regions tests are made available in regional branches of Tashkent University of Information Technologies.
Aligned with major aims of Good Governance Unit, most of the stakeholders of this system share a wide range of long run strategic expectations. With the abovementioned directive being an initial trigger, the system should, upon assessment of government employees’ IT literacy level, evaluate their training needs. The system will help evaluate effectiveness of existing training courses, develop custom tailored training sessions for properly identified target groups. This all should in the long run yield in increased effectiveness of computer usage and improvement of the overall computer literacy among government employees, increase responsiveness of government agencies by increasing internal document flow, and create favorable environment for instilling e-government projects and information systems.