IT skills and support for your staff

IT skills standards and qualifications


When training your staff in information technologies (IT), you should consider training that meets the required standards. .

Two main standards relate to recognised qualifications in computer skills:

By following established standards, you can ensure that your staff gain the most relevant skills and qualifications.

ECDL qualifications

ECDL is the world's leading computer skills certification. The ECDL is made up of a range of modules. Each provides a practical programme of up-to-date skills and knowledge areas, which are validated by a test. Read about the ECDL modules.

The ECDL also offers a qualification called the ECDL-CTP (ECDL Certified Training Professional). This qualification shows that a person has demonstrated their competence to deliver ECDL training. You should check that any training providers you use have this qualification.

The ECDL Foundation is independent of the major application vendors and their qualifications are vendor neutral (ie they are not tied to a particular supplier's software). This means that the skills learnt are transferable to different application suites.

Specialist knowledge

Certain qualifications are highly specialised and relate to specific computer applications or packages. Examples of these include courses on bookkeeping skills based on particular accounting suites, or computer-aided design skills based on industry standard packages.

Training for IT support staff

There are many qualifications aimed at equipping staff with skills in specific areas, such as desktop support, networking and systems engineering. These qualifications will often be established and administrated by hardware or software manufacturers such as Cisco, Novell or Microsoft.

Some examples of the qualifications on offer include:

  • MCSE - Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer
  • MCDST - Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician
  • MCSA - Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator
  • MCSD - Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer
  • CCNA - Cisco Certified Network Associate
  • CCNP - Cisco Certified Network Professional
  • CNE - Certified Novell Engineer
  • CAN - Certified Novell Administrator

Independent qualifications not tied to specific companies include:

  • CompTIA A+ Certification - general PC maintenance and support skills
  • CompTIA Network+ Certification - general PC networking and support skills

For most businesses, IT systems are a significant investment. To make the most of it, it is important to ensure that your staff have the right skills to use and leverage these systems to your business' benefit.

If your business is in a particular industry, you could consider seeking sector-specific advice on skills development. See more on sector-specific skills and training in Northern Ireland.