More Microsoft Office Specialist exams are being taken per capita in Ireland than in any other country in the world, according to Certiport, the US company responsible for managing the scheme.
The Office Specialist Program is Microsoft’s official desktop certification initiative. It is aimed at increasing productivity, as well as measuring and validating skills in the widely used desktop applications suite.
This year has seen some of the most significant growth in interest locally for the certification since its launch here five years ago. For the first half of 2003, 7,369 exams were sat in Ireland, which represents a 65pc increase on the same period in the previous year. This does not equate to actual numbers of students however: until last year, many students used a number of different candidate IDs and most will have sat more than one exam.
Statistics from Prodigy, the company that administers the programme on behalf of Certiport in Ireland, show that local exam figures have been rising by 12pc month on month this year. In February of this year, more than 1,200 exams were taken, compared with 563 in 2002. There are now 173 testing centres and 280 master instructors throughout the country, north and south.
Each Office Specialist exam in the initiative is a qualification in its own right. Microsoft Office Certification is available in Core and Expert level for Word and Excel and only Core level in PowerPoint, Access and Outlook in Office 2000 and Office XP. Master certification is available for those looking to demonstrate ability in five Microsoft Office applications, including Word Expert, Excel Expert, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook.
Steve Clinger of Certiport commented: “Ireland has yet again demonstrated its astonishing level of computer literacy.” In June, an Irish student won the first global Microsoft Office XP Worldwide Challenge in Florida, from a field of more than 53,000 students from around the world. “Combined with a high pass rate, this clearly demonstrates that Ireland is a centre of skilled people with high computer literacy,” Clinger said.
Harry Largey, senior group manager, enterprise and partner group, Microsoft Ireland, said that training is an integral part of maximising investment in software. “We know that untrained users of Microsoft Office typically do not take full advantage of some Office features and functionality,” he said. “By taking the course, and ultimately the examination, employees can radically improve their skill levels and competency in the applications.”
By Gordon Smith