From nightclub manager to IT expert via the BCS

A nightclub manager in Southampton is seeking to change careers and get into IT after progressing from a PC skills qualification...

A nightclub manager in Southampton is seeking to change careers and get into IT after progressing from a PC skills qualification to the highest BCS professional exam in just two years, writes John Kavanagh.

Like other candidates for BCS qualifications, Alistair Langston has been studying after work - which means he has often been writing assignments at 4am after his stint at the NY2 nightclub.

Langston did computer studies at college in the mid-1980s, but then took a job in a bar at a holiday camp. He went on to manage a series of bars and nightclubs in the UK and the Middle East.

In 2000 Langston took up IT again by studying for the European computer driving licence, the PC skills qualification run in the UK by the BCS. His success rekindled his enthusiasm for IT and he moved on to take the BCS professional certificate and then the diploma, and he is now aiming to pass the professional graduate diploma, which is the equivalent of an honours degree.

"I originally took the European computer driving licence course to refresh my skills and learn some new ones, but I didn't expect much more than that," says Langston. "I have maintained an interest in IT over the years, and the course ignited a greater spark. I had been considering a career change and I soon realised this was the direction I wanted to take.

"I looked at several courses as a follow-on from the computer driving licence and decided on the BCS certificate because it offered greater flexibility - even if this means completing assignments at 4am."

Langston is now applying for IT jobs, especially those which will help boost his Web site development skills or enable him to use his leisure industry experience.

Langston studied at Southampton Institute, which has already seen former clerk Kieran Green progress from the European computer driving licence via BCS professional exams into an analyst/programmer job.

The international standing of the European computer driving licence - which has been taken by almost two million people in 56 countries - is set to be enhanced further after a recommendation by the European Commission's High-Level Group for Employment and Social Dimension of the Information Society that the EU should accept it as the standard diploma for basic computing skills.

Organisations including the National Health Service, the Ministry of Defence and the Bank of England have already adopted the qualification as standard. People can take it via 2,000 training and testing centres.

The qualification has seven modules, ranging from computer basics to word processing, spreadsheets, presentation graphics and network services. Advanced qualifications in word processing and spreadsheets are also available.

Details of the European computer driving licence are at www.ecdl.co.uk/ Information about BCS professional exams is at www.bcs.org/exams

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