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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 169

Date:- 25 September 2004

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A PROJECT piloting a new national qualification designed to improve the IT skills of the country's workforce has been completed successfully in the North West. 

An event celebrating the success of some of the participants took place on September 21 in Liverpool.

The project tested the new Information Technology Qualification (iTQ), developed by Oxford, Cambridge & RSA Examinations, which is an updated version of the Using IT National Vocational Qualification.

The Greater Merseyside Learning and Skills Council expect the qualification to improve the IT performance of over 500,000 people throughout the region as well as thousands more across the country. 

The project was spearheaded by 15 local LSCs (Learning and Skills Councils) throughout the country. In Merseyside, one centre allocated 100 places for its initial run. Employees from some of the largest corporations in the UK including Jaguar and GlaxoSmithKline volunteered to take part in the project - demonstrating the value such companies attribute to the new qualification.

The awards ceremony in Liverpool will celebrate the achievement of 97 of those candidates. While 84 achieved the full ITQ, a further 13 achieved at least some of the units and are expected to complete the qualification in the near future.

The new qualification has been welcomed by candidates and employers alike as many believe the lack of IT skills in the region needs to be addressed. According to a recent survey conducted among 80 firms in the North West, a staggering 90 per cent felt their staff did not have sufficient computer skills. 

Peter Rothwell, OCR's Business Development Manager for the Northern region said:- "The celebration to mark the end of the piloting project also marks the beginning of a new, more IT literate era for employees of some of the country's largest companies. The iTQ will ensure that the UK's workforce will meet international IT standards set by the increasingly competitive global economy."


EIGHT pupils, with and without disabilities, from Range High School in Formby, Liverpool narrowly missed taking the prestigious title of the 2004 Kielder Challenge Cup winners at the final of the national competition held last week 

This was Range High School's fourth time in the final of the national competition, which is supported by the HSBC Education Trust. The two-day final of the outdoor problem-solving competition, for teams of 13-16 year old young people, took place in the remote setting of Kielder Forest in Northumberland. 

Range High School was placed sixth in the final. Despite not winning, the team had a fantastic time at the final. Pat Harwood from Range High School said:- "As usual the games are brilliantly challenging with a great mix of physical and mental problems to keep all involved and test all abilities. The kids have a fabulous time."

Gaining a place in the final of the national beating off stiff competition was a major achievement in itself. The team was one of only six to make it through to the prestigious Cup final of the competition. 

At the final, the team had to work together to solve six physically and mentally testing activities. All the tasks are designed to include every member of the team, which should include at least four disabled team members, two of whom should be wheelchair users. 

Rod Holmes of the Fieldfare Trust was very impressed with Range High School's performance. He commented:- "During the final, the points are awarded for teamwork, communication and ingenuity and Range High School demonstrated these attributes excellently.

They were a very enthusiastic team, who fully embraced the philosophy of the Challenge, which is to have fun while overcoming testing problems in a rugged environment."
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