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New IT Diploma on show
England's children, schools and families secretary, Ed Balls, yesterday visited a London college that will be among the first in the country to offer the new IT Diploma from September 2008.
During the tour of Tower Hamlets College, he met local students considering taking the Diploma next year and sat in on a session designed to give a taste of what a lesson might look and feel like.
It is the first in a series of visits planned by Ministers to see how the first five Diploma lines are being implemented across the country.
The secretary of state also met and thanked representatives from companies that have been involved in the Diploma's development, including BT, Cisco and Microsoft.
Vodafone's head of executive resourcing, Andy Hill, was among the employers at Tower Hamlets College yesterday. He said: "Vodafone welcomes the Diploma in IT as UK companies urgently need more young people to better understand technology in business.
"Employers of IT professionals want talented individuals with the blend of business and technology skills that enable them to work effectively at the heart of the organisation. This requires a fundamental shift in the way technology is taught to young people.
"Vodafone is delighted to be closely involved in the development of the Diploma for IT, which we expect to make a very positive contribution for 14-19 year olds. A key principle behind the Diploma is that it will help to develop young people both for demanding university courses and rewarding, flexible careers."
Mr Balls - who last week said that Diplomas could become "the qualification of choice for young people" - said that academic and business support for the new qualification was essential: "What employers are saying to me - and what I have heard today - is that the Diplomas will give pupils a headstart. They will open up real opportunities for combining academic and practical options to allow every young person to make the most of their talents, whether they are progressing to further study, work or an apprenticeship.
"We need the business and academic worlds to continue to back these qualifications and help make them a success, and I'm delighted to see so many organisations working together to make the Diploma a reality in this area. With this support, I believe that Diplomas could emerge as the jewel of our education system.
"Information Technology is one of our economy's key growth areas and it's vital that our education system gives young people the right skills for UK companies to compete globally.
"The top employers here today show the business support for this qualification and I'm pleased that so many leading institutions are backing it. They're sending a clear message to young people - that if they want to get into IT, they should certainly consider taking the IT Diploma next September.
"I'm also delighted to meet some local students who will be among the first in the country to have the option of taking the Diploma. They have a unique opportunity to get a real head start in IT - whether they then want to do further study or join the workplace. I hope they're as excited as I am about the academic and professional opportunities it will offer them."
The IT Diploma is one of five Diplomas that will be available in certain areas from September 2008. The other four are: construction and the built environment; engineering; society, health and development; and creative and media.
Plans for a total of 17 Diplomas are under way and should be available to all students by 2013. Last week Ed Balls announced three new Diplomas in science, humanities and languages to be introduced in 2011.
For further information on the Diploma in IT, visit:
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