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Sun 27 Aug 2006 04:00 AM

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Warning over fake IT training courses

A major IT training body is warning of non-approved centres across the region that are falsely claiming to be authorised to offer its programme.

A major IT training body is warning of non-approved centres across the region that are falsely claiming to be authorised to offer its programme.

It has claimed that some are even issuing fake certificates for the students they have trained.

The ICDL-GCC Foundation, the governing body and certification authority of the International Computer Driving License (ICDL) programme, said it regularly receives complaints of such non-approved centres running their courses.

ICDL is an internationally recognised computer proficiency standard that is owned by the European Computer Driving License Foundation. It is based on one standard exam and is offered globally in 36 languages including Arabic.

The ICDL-GCC Foundation warned that students attending non-approved centres may not be trained to the proper ICDL standards and that these centres are issuing certificates not recognised by potential employers and educational institutions.

Another consequence of these non-approved centres is that they are taking business away from legitimate approved centres by offering cheaper courses to students.

Students can only take the ICDL exam at an approved centre as it is in an automated online format that is not available elsewhere.

Arabian Business spoke to one Dubai- based training centre, International Learning Solutions (ILS) and the New Horizons company which runs 40 training centres in the region, including two in the UAE.

Both firms said they had come across high numbers of students who have trained on non-approved courses before taking the exam at their centres and that they are losing business as a result of the situation.

ICDL-approved centres will charge anywhere between US$300 to US$500-plus for students to take the ICDL training course whereas non-approved centres will offer the course for less than US$300, according to Jamil Ezzo, director general of the ICDL-GCC Foundation.

Before a training facility is able to offer the ICDL programme to students it is supposed to be inspected by the ICDL Foundation and to meet specific requirements relating to the qualifications of the trainers, the learning environment, and the material that is used to teach the course.

By attending a non-approved centre, students run a high risk of failing the course, said Ezzo.

“This is a constant problem, and it becomes more and more serious as the programme grows,” he warned.

Mohammed Alsam, country general manager for New Horizons in the UAE, described the situation as “very serious”, adding that people were “wasting their time and their money” on non-approved courses.

Mustafa Katous, CEO of International Learning Solutions, estimated that in the second half of last year around 300 students who had trained at unapproved centres took the ICDL exams at his training centre and over 50% failed.

As well as facing a greater risk of failing the exam, students that have trained at non-authorised centres are often unable to provide the performance improvements at work their employers expect as a result of them having done the course, Katous warned.

“These centres are spoiling the market and confusing the end-users,” he complained.

Ezzo warned that some non-approved centres are issuing certificates claiming candidates have gained the ICDL qualification, without students even having taken an exam.

He admitted however that the Foundation is struggling to approve all training centres which offer the ICDL programme, owing to the rapid growth in availability of the course across the Gulf region, where it is now taught from around 800 approved training centres. Students who want to take part in the official ICDL programme should visit www.iccdlgcc.com for details.

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