Community College Consortium Provides Students With IT Skills for the Workplace

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In times of a lagging economy, securing jobs and retaining workers is of utmost importance to a state’s economic well-being. For this reason, nearly 30 California community colleges have collaborated to help better prepare students for the workplace by teaching them technology skills that add value to their career paths.

Launched in January, the Bay Area Information Technology Consortium (Bay ITC) is on its way to achieving its goal of raising 10,000 students, half of whom come from low-income neighborhoods, to an industry-defined IT skill level by 2005.

Led by Cabrillo College, Bay ITC and its leaders hope that the effect of the program is far-reaching. “When we can make a difference for one college, one company, one community agency, it has a ripple effect for the future of all students in our system,” says Corey Q. Kidwell, executive director of Bay ITC and a dean at Cabrillo College.

At the heart of the goal to prepare students for technological competency in the workplace lies the International Computer Driving License (ICDL), which is the world’s most recognized computer skills credential. ICDL certification (see sidebar below) is used in more than 130 countries and provides evidence of mastery of skills such as file management, word processing and information technology in general.

Grant Castle, president of ICDL-US, believes that an organization such as Bay ITC is a perfect partner to introduce ICDL certification to community college students and workforce development arenas. “Its ability to gather consensus and collaboration among the diverse community college and workforce system makes [Bay ITC] a logical focal point to implement ICDL successfully,” says Castle.

The powerful effects of Bay ITC are due largely to its unprecedented collaboration, which Kidwell describes as “innovation by the 26 deans who began working together.” While these individual community colleges were mostly used to competing with each other for students, resources and contracts, they found that a collaboration, such as Bay ITC, could yield much more powerful results than any individual college could muster. With the element of competition gone, the focus turns to helping the individual student succeed. “We can’t afford to always have winners and losers because, in the end, it would be the students who lose,” says Kidwell.

For more information on Bay ITC, visit www.bayitc.org.

—Annamaria DiGiorgio


ICDL Certification at a Glance

Having the ICDL credential ensures academic institutions or prospective employers that the holder has validated his or her technology skills by successfully completing a series of tests. The tests gauge competency in seven areas: information technology, using the computer and managing files, word processing, spreadsheets, databases, presentations, as well as Internet and e-mail. Candidates have up to two years to complete all seven tests, after which they receive official certification. For more information, visit www.icdlus.com.

In addition, ICDL-US has made an agreement with Vantage Learning (www.vantage.com) to resell an upcoming version of the ICDL certification exam. The new version of the ICDL certification program includes an online assessment tool that is based on the company’s Vantage Learning Platform and IntelliMetric technology, which uses a blend of artificial intelligence and the digitization of human expertise.

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2004 issue of THE Journal.

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