2020 saw 16,000 new candidates register for ICDL certification in France. Among them, a wide variety of profiles (employees, job seekers, self-employed …) and objectives, but above all a common point: that of having met the challenge of digital skills. Digital skills are essential for many workers facing changes in the labour market and are also sought after by all generations.
Beyond any clichés of digital skills being limited to the mastery of social networks among the youngest or the use of video conferencing so that seniors can keep in touch with their grandchildren, the testimonies of candidates give us a broader picture. ICDL France interviewed both the youngest and oldest candidates for ICDL certification.
Mr Abraham Marc Allani Ibitowa, youngest ICDL candidate in 2020
Originally from Côte d’Ivoire, Abraham is now in his second year at the EM Lyon Business School following a business and management program that takes four years and can be completed with a fifth year of specialisation. Interested in the world of finance, Abraham naturally turned to the program of this business school. Abraham will soon add internships in marketing and management to his CV, which will help him fully define his career path.
ICDL France: What place do you give to digital skills?
Abraham: A very important place. This is the digital age. There is an obligation to adapt and to improve those skills. Businesses are also undergoing a digital transformation and their need for training in this area is obvious. We have been particularly aware of the proper use of digital tools in our school. On the one hand, because one of the subjects is entirely devoted to it (Management Computer Tools) and secondly because the very organization of our schooling requires it, especially when it comes to making a submission via Dropbox.
ICDL France: How does ICDL certification give you a “plus” as part of your journey?
Abraham: The journey of ICDL certification is important on several levels. First, because passing ICDL certification for the Documents, Spreadsheets and Presentation modules accounts for 50% of the final score of the Management Computer Tools course. The programme provided by the school and the tests allowed me to better consider the importance of digital skills. In addition, the reputation of ICDL certification is also a significant asset to the labour market. Finally, the success of the certification test is a guarantee of reliability for my own knowledge. ICDL tests allow you to know where I am and to effectively measure my skill progression. In particular, they made me aware of the challenge of training and certifying one’s knowledge regularly enough so that it does not fall into disuse.
Nadia Salles, Eldest ICDL candidate in 2020
Nadia, the dean of the successful ICDL candidates in 2020, has successfully passed her ICDL certification tests on the Documents and Spreadsheets modules. A success that we welcomed and which led us to exchange with her about her journey and her motivations.
The 74-year-old retiree is working hard to share her passion for reading. As the Secretary and a volunteer reader for the association Read and Make Read in the department of the Pyrenees-Orientales, she visits a crèche and a kindergarten once a week to read texts and share the desire to read to the youngest.
ICDL France: Can you tell us more about your background, your professional experiences and the place that digital skills have occupied in it?
Trained in shorthand and typing, I started working on a Remington typewriter. I then got to know more advanced tools: IBM, word processing software, then telex and fax. When I started working on the computer, there wasn’t much freedom left to the user. It was simply a matter of entering data into it. We were even told not to look at the screen so as not to tire our eyes [laughs].
Starting in 1972, I had my first experiences of networking. I was an employee of a company that specialised in the sale of construction equipment. The company’s activity was spread over several subsidiaries and a computerised system was required to control spare parts and maintain vehicles. A good professional experience that also gave me the opportunity to learn how to drive one of these machines.
I then went down to the Department of the Eastern Pyrenees. I opened a grocery store there with my husband. Then I worked in the insurance industry until I retired. I then took the opportunity to volunteer for the cinema and the theatre, before committing to Read and Make Read from 2017.
ICDL France: And today, where are you with Read and Make Read?
With the health crisis, our business is almost completely at a standstill. I look forward to the end of the restrictions. I can’t wait to be able to read again in the kindergarten and nursery. However, the current situation has given us time to train. Digital tools, in particular. But also to skills very specific to the work of our readers. For example, some may have been trained in multi-voice reading.
While waiting for a more normal life to resume, we continue, among readers, to exchange opinions on the books we read. We used to do this every month, over tea and a specific theme, in order to enrich our bibliography. We are now doing this by email.
ICDL France: What led you to train in office tools (Word/Excel)? What benefit do you get from your training today?
I already had a good command of Word. However, the training gave me the opportunity to deepen my knowledge. On Excel, on the other hand, we had to take back some bases and this was a discovery. The software has great possibilities. As part of our activity within the association, it allows us to process our database and publish statistics that reflect our activity. This information can then be traced back to the national entity of Read and Make Read (nearly 250 members at the departmental level, 20,000 at the national level). Excel also allows us to better process our data and to connect more effectively with volunteers and host structures. Everything is done much faster when you know the right function.
ICDL France: How did you feel about taking your certification tests?
As part of the ICDL – Uniform Actions Collectives scheme at the V3I training centre, I have benefited from excellent training and very good support. The hardest part is making the connection between theory and practice and between what you are used to doing and what needs to be done. During the test, you should also be vigilant to the words of the statement, especially those that specifically identify the features and topics of the software to be sure not to respond incorrectly.
This article was originally published, in French, by ICDL France.