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Cape Times, 29 July 2010

Article as it appeared in the Cape Times

AN IT qualification is a ticket to the top, but a degree in IT will take you over the top. If you¡¯re a school-leaver or wish to expand your career path and have an interest in technology, or are just looking for an up-to-the-minute career, it is definitely worthwhile to consider the great opportunities that keep coming out of the information technology (IT) industry. While nearly every other type of employment takes a hit in these tough economic times, demand for scarce skills such as those needed in the IT industry remain strong across all fields, according to Nora Grose, managing director of Latitude Varsity.

What are the current buzz words in IT? Whi le in the pas t , network engineering, programming, network administration and web development used to be the buzz words when studying IT, the industry has long moved on to need a more advanced and versatile qualification. It is a known fact that the minimum qualification required by
many leading companies in the US, Europe and Asia as an IT engineer or specialist, is a degree.¡°It is also a fact that soon these degree pathways will become degrees
in business IT, or strategic business IT, which you find when doing a masters degree. Most companies are saying we need these business skills with the IT skills from junior level, and not only from master degree graduates,¡± says Grose.

Are all IT qualifications not the same? To hold a Microsoft technology specialist
(MCTS) or Microsoft certified IT professional (MCITP) certification or BTEC
diploma or certificate in IT today will not carry you far into the future. It is therefore
critically important to any schoolleaver showing an interest in technology to make absolutely sure of their choice of what and how far they want to study. Make sure the qualification you are enrolling for can take you further than just a diploma, and whether these certifications provide you entry to tertiary institutions not only in South Africa, but
the rest of the world.

What are the requirements for a prospective student to register? This is where prospective school-leavers will find the flexibility offered by Latitude Varsity, for example, a welcome and non-negotiable option. Traditionally you needed a matric (Grade 12) exemption with specific subjects to enter a tertiary institution in South Africa. ¡°Latitude Varsity opted to follow the route the rest of the IT world is following. No exemption is needed to enter a degree pathway. A student may start at a certificate and progress to a diploma or degree, and so on,¡± says Grose.

¡°With the success of the recent World Cup and South Africa re-entering the global market, an international qualification has become sought-after. And if someone does not want to undertake such academically orientated studies? Another very exciting career path to consider is that of a professional computer forensics analyst. This is an
exciting career for individuals who choose not to do the academic pathway but wish to extend their current career path. Again, it is advisable to research, find and specialise in a field where skills are critical. For example, if you take the professional certificate in computer forensics and internet security, it provides you with a career path in an area
in desperate need of skilled and qualified specialists. With only about 26 qualified specialists currently in South Africa in a field five years behind in the industry, this is certainly an option to consider.

What about job security? Studies show that IT-qualified individuals have more job security and more choices when deciding who to work for, as well as making more money, faster than most other kinds of occupations.¡°The great thing about IT is that it¡¯s
always changing and evolving, bringing more opportunities for newcomers to get their foot in the door,¡± says Nora Grose. ¡°If there is any field where a hardworking young person can progress rapidly to the top of their game, with all the rewards that go with
it, it is IT. You could be a professional in the workforce, earning serious money in
as little as six months.¡± If you are internationally qualified, doors open for you in countries from the US to Dubai; China to Asia and Europe. And if things are still sweet for IT workers in SA, they are even better abroad. IT recruitment is up 11% in the
United States where a 2009 Computerworld magazine survey identified IT careers as jobs that received higherthan- average pay hikes. In Europe, a survey of 300 company managers showed that two-thirds of them were planning to hire additional IT staff in the coming year, with a third reporting that IT workers are getting harder to find.

How do you become an IT professional? The easiest and most reliable way to get into IT is to get an internationally recognised IT qualification such as those offered by 60 universities globally in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, the US and South Africa, among others. Join the ranks with more than one million graduates who have chosen the route to a quality British education. More than 200 000 students all over the world study at an accredited partner centre every year. Latitude Varsity is the only NCC-accredited partner in South Africa and Namibia at which you can obtain a British degree, Grose points out.

Does this mean no more gap year after school? Not at all! You can study while you travel and become a worldclass student. The latitude offered to students through Latitude Varsity has brought a new dimension to modern students. There are four enrolment dates each year, and almost no geographical boundaries when studying.
There are no outdated text books. You need pack only your laptop or netbook because all your textbooks are preloaded. You attend the virtual classroom and network with students around the world, using social media networking platforms such as Facebook, ning, Linkedin and Twitter to build your CV.¡°IT jobs are demanding, and need people who know their stuff, and more importantly are ¡°With IT¡± says Nora

Currently growing sectors globally: Computer and information system manager ; computer engineer ; computer game designer; computer hardware engineer; computer security professional; computer service technician; computer software engineer; computer systems manager; database developer; internet system administrator; network systems analyst; software developer; software engineer; software programmer; web developer; and IT and communication manager.

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• Latitude Varsity introduced itself on the 14th September 2009 by newspaper advertisements in the very popular JIP Loopbaan Fokus- Die Burger. We were received very well and with a lot of excitement. See our advertisements below:

• Our Advertisement in the JIP Loopbaan Fokus- Die Burger, 26 October 2009.

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