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November 2006 - ECDL Foundation Announces Winning Global ECDL / ICDL Candidate

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''A Brighter Future” Award for Finn - Niina Aarnio 

ECDL Foundation has announced the worldwide winner of the “ECDL / ICDL – A Brighter Future” Award 2006 at a high-profile international Awards ceremony held in Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 2nd, 2006. The Award, which was established to encourage ECDL / ICDL Candidates to highlight the impact of ECDL / ICDL certification on people’s lives, was presented to Finnish Candidate – Niina Aarnio in recognition of her personal achievement in attaining ECDL certification in difficult personal circumstances.

ECDL Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to bridging the digital divide by providing access for all to the Information Society and is the leading provider of end-user computer skills certifications worldwide. The ECDL Foundation is the global governing body and licensing authority of the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL), the internationally recognised standard for end-user computer skills.

In addition to the ECDL, ECDL Foundation offers a range of certifications catering for every level of computer-use experience from complete beginners to expert end-users and users with specialised interests. The “ECDL / ICDL - A Brighter Future” competition was established to recognise and celebrate ECDL / ICDL Candidates who have benefited from ECDL / ICDL certification. National competitions were held by ECDL and ICDL Licensees around the world. Individual Candidates submitted entries describing the impact that ECDL / ICDL has had on their lives.

The national winners were selected by ECDL and ICDL Licensees and then entered into the international competition for assessment by an independent panel of experts which included Mr Gerry Murphy, Executive Director, International Sales and Partnering Business Unit, Enterprise Ireland; Alan Bennett, Manager EMEA Education Markets, Apple; and Kurt Gladh, former Chairman and Director of ECDL Foundation Board and ex CEO ECDL Sweden.

Niina Aarnio was selected as global winner for the determination she showed in turning her life around and in achieving ECDL certification. Niina Aarnio was working at a kiosk that was closing down due to Liquidation. Being over thirty with no work experience, three children, and unemployed was a daunting prospect for Niina. She was able to find work as a cleaner in the local shopping centre but that required her to work evenings which was not possible as she needed to take care of her children in the evenings. Niina’s niece had suggested to Niina to do the European Computer Driving Licence and after Niina went to the Library to research more on this, she became quite excited at the prospect. The one obstacle was money, she didn’t have the money to undertake the ECDL course, but luckily her employer offered to pay for the course as gratitude for her 15 years long term contribution to the company. Niina achieved her ECDL Certification and as a result was able to gain employment as an Office Clerk near to where she lives. Attaining ECDL was the step that enabled Niina to be on a level playing field with other Candidates applying for jobs and Niina has never looked back since.

Niina Aarnio said, “After searching for a job for a while I saw an opening for office clerk near to where I live. They were looking for a person with computer literacy (yes – that’s me!) and with customer service experience (me – again!). I turned my computer on. I looked for my training material about layout and started typing. I wrote a truthful and clear application letter and sent it over to the CEO of that company. I also wrote a CV, where I attached my photo. All these things I had learned on ECDL course! Mailing my application letter was an exciting moment – will I make it to the interview? After three days my phone rang and I was given an appointment to a job interview. So, here I am. Working at the office with computer – thanks to that truck driving licence!”. The event was attended by Government Ministers, representatives from the United Nations, over 50 national Computer Societies, ECDL and ICDL Licensees representing 146 countries across the five continents and internationally respected thinkers on digital literacy.

Speaking at the Awards, ECDL Foundation's CEO Mr Damien O’Sullivan said, “We know that the ECDL / ICDL has a profound effect on many people’s lives and this Award has been established to recognise and celebrate that fact. Our winning Candidate, Niina Aarnio, is living proof of the ECDL / ICDL ideal and shows that becoming certified opens doors and grants access to people who would otherwise be excluded from many areas of society. By achieving ECDL / ICDL certification under difficult circumstances Niina has been able to turn her life around and put herself on an equal footing in the workplace with others. With this Award we honour Niina Aarnio’s achievement and hope that it will serve as a testament to the many benefits of ECDL / ICDL certification for Candidates in all circumstances around the world.”

For more information please contact:
Marketing Department of ECDL Foundation
T: + 353 1 630 6000