Sat, Nov 21, 2009
The Straits Times
Pick up computer skills online at your own pace

By Chua Hian Hou

FROM January, you can learn IT skills online as part of a revamped government-supported national computer proficiency programme.

Computer skills have become increasingly a must-have for job-seekers, and will only grow in importance over time, the Singapore Computer Society's (SCS) chairman for IT skills certification, Ms Tham Ai Chyn, said at the launch of the revamped programme yesterday.

She cited a recent survey by technology research firm IDC which said 85 per cent of workplace supervisors preferred employees with some sort of Microsoft Office software skills certification as they were more productive, credible and competent.

SCS launched the first IT training course in 1998. Since then, more than 70,000 people have undergone the National PC Driving Test, which teaches participants how to operate computers, navigate the Internet and use common office applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel.

But last year, the non-profit association decided to 'take a fresh look at the programme and what to do to improve the programme', said Ms Tham.

Recognising that people may have difficulty setting aside time to go for training, the SCS decided to work with an IT training company, Certiport, to offer the courses via the Internet.

The new National PC Proficiency Program, said Ms Tham, frees participants to learn at their own pace, and when they have time.

Face-to-face lessons will continue to be available at its 17 accredited training providers, she added.

While the syllabus will continue to focus on computer skills and Microsoft productivity software, the changes will also introduce new subjects targeted at more tech-savvy workers, like setting up computer servers.

The SCS, which is aiming to get 50,000 people to take the course in the next three years, is working closely with Microsoft to ensure trainees are trained on the newest versions of its software.

Logistics professional Charlie Tay said his certification has benefited him. 'Certification is a credible indicator of expertise and provides proof of my professional standards.'

The Government subsidises the course fees, which start from $20, as part of its Skills Development Fund initiative.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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