BCS brings technology to masses through course for technophobes

The BCS has stepped up its campaign to bridge the UK's digital divide by developing a course and certificate for IT novices and...

The BCS has stepped up its campaign to bridge the UK's digital divide by developing a course and certificate for IT novices and technophobes.

The Equalskills scheme promises a fun, informal and uncomplicated introduction to computers, but it has a serious purpose.

"Nearly a third of the UK population is being left behind in our increasingly information-driven society, thwarted by fear of attempting to use a computer," the BCS said.

"Equalskills is designed to address the needs of those intimidated by computers and thus speedily enable a large part of society with the rudiments of IT skills.

"It is designed to show the use and role of technology in the everyday lives of all in society, regardless of status, education, age, ability or understanding."

The programme will show newcomers to IT the basics of computing, from how to switch on a computer and use a mouse to exploring the web for weather updates and holidays.

The BCS said Equalskills would be the first step on the IT skills ladder: candidates will be encouraged to move on to the European computer driving licence (ECDL), also managed by the BCS in the UK, where more than 700,000 people have achieved or are working towards the qualification.

"Equalskills is in line with BCS aims of promoting the relevance and importance of IT," said ECDL UK director Pete Bayley.

"It will ensure IT is accessible to everybody and highlight the simple benefits computers and the internet can offer.

"A great misconception exists that most people are familiar with the rudiments of computing and with terms such as e-mail and the web. But although IT literacy has increased dramatically in recent years, thanks to BCS success in promoting the importance of IT skills through the ECDL, a serious gap has opened up between the computer literate and illiterate.

"Equalskills will go a long way in helping to bridge this gap and enabling computer novices to become fully involved in the information age."

Equalskills will cover computer basics, an introduction to the desktop, the web and e-mail.

It will be available from adult education centres and local training organisations. Candidates will be able to progress at their own pace. People completing the course successfully will get a certificate.

Equalskills is the latest project in a series of BCS initiatives to increase IT understanding.

In the autumn the BCS announced sponsorship of a new Scouts Association IT badge, aiming to improve both IT skills and the image of IT.

The BCS also introduced a scheme with South Yorkshire Learning and Skills Council involving the use of the ECDL as part of an e-learning programme for young people and companies.

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