In the five years since it was introduced nearly one million people in the UK have registered for the European computer driving licence, the end-user qualification run the UK by the BCS.
The internationally-recognised qualification was launched in the UK by the BCS in May 1998 after being developed as an initiative by the society and similar bodies across Europe.
ECDL programme director Pete Bayley said, "In the first year there were 1,200 candidates and 150 test centres. Since then the ECDL's success has far exceeded expectations and we are on target to reach one million registrations by the end of the year. There are now more than 2,600 test centres."
The UK has the biggest take-up for the qualification. The total number of people registered is more than 2.5 million across 125 countries. In the UK, the ECDL has become central to a BCS campaign to improve IT literacy.
Employers including IBM, the NHS, the Bank of England, Sainsbury's, financial services group HSBC and pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer have adopted the ECDL as a standard.
The Cabinet Office is offering staff across the Civil Service the opportunity to gain the qualification as part of the government's drive to deliver all services electronically by 2005.
A study of NHS staff found that the number of users needing to call regularly for IT support had fallen from 71% to fewer than 5% among those who gained the qualification.
Staff were saving 38 minutes a day on average because they were no longer struggling with IT.
People of all ages and from a variety of professional, clerical and manual jobs have gained the ECDL qualification, the majority using it in their work and to enhance their career prospects. User satisfaction rates are more than 95%.
The ECDL consists of seven modules:
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- Basic IT concepts
- Using the computer lManaging files
- Word processing
- Database presentation
- Information and communication.
Advanced modules are available in word processing and spreadsheets.
More information about the ECDL www.bcs.org/ecdl