According to research undertaken by the College Lecturers Union back in February this year, one in nine adults have no formal qualifications. If that isn’t shocking enough, in some of the most deprived parts of the UK this number is as high as one in three.
Meanwhile, OxIS figures from 2011 also show that just 31% of people with no educational qualifications use the internet – compared with 91% of people with a university degree. With 25% of all jobs advertised solely online, and 72% employers saying they wouldn’t even talk to someone without basic IT skills, it’s clear that those without IT skills OR qualifications are doubly disadvantaged in the jobs market.
Here at Tinder Foundation, our own stats from the UK online centres network back up that story. Some 33% of our referrals now come from Jobcentre Plus. These people often need our help across the board – learning how to search for jobs online, apply for jobs online, build electronic CVs, and simultaneously gain the IT skills to feature on them.
We felt very strongly there was a need and a demand for a solution – a baseline IT qualification to boost skills, confidence, and CVs at entry level.
The result – in partnership with City & Guilds, is the Online Basics Award (ITQ). It’s an entry level three qualification which gives learners one credit on the QCF (Qualifications and Credit Framework). Based on our popular Online Basics course, it’s a one hour assessment covering three work-critical skills – communicating with email, searching the internet and using the internet safely.
It’s often the first qualification many of our learners have ever completed. Centres report that it gives people a sense of achievement and the confidence to tackle more formal learning and qualifications. It’s the first, easy-to-reach step on a ladder that can lead them anywhere. It also looks great on CVs – helping to plug the gaps long term unemployment can leave, and assuring employers of essential computer capability.
Of course the assessment is done online. The quick, instant result for learners is easy for UK online centres and assessment centres to manage and moderate, and it has drastically cut down on the administration they have to do on other qualifications. What’s more, some of our hyperlocal partners have even gone on to secure local grants to help unemployed people in their communities to do the course and accredit the award.
So far, we have 100 centres delivering the qualification. In the last four months they’ve helped more than 600 people achieve their Online Basics award. That’s a pretty good result. But as always, I want MORE! We’re looking to expand the assessment network so even more centres and learners can take advantage of the qualification.
If you want to consider offering this qualification then it’s open to any organisation. The first step is to become a UK online centres partner, and you can find out more about that here – we’d love to have you on board.
In the meantime, I’d very much like to hear what you think about the qualification – do comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org