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A computing student is competing for a place at the prestigious Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) World Championship in Orlando, Florida, a global competition that tests students' skills on Microsoft Office applications.Mark Brown

Nineteen-year-old, computing student, Mark Brown, is the only FE student in the entire North of England who has secured a place in the competitive national finals after acing the regional tests.

Mark, from St Helens, successfully competed in the popular technology skills competition to demonstrate his mastery of Microsoft Office products and completed unique project-based tests to demonstrate his ability in PowerPoint.

There were two qualifying rounds between October 2015 and May 2016. In the second round that Mark competed in, only 9 young people were selected from around England and Wales using the 'top score method', which takes into consideration the highest exam score gained in the lowest amount of time. The top 20 students from England, Wales and Scotland will then come together for the UK Final in June at an event hosted by Prodigy Learning and Microsoft at Microsoft UK’s Showcase Classroom at Paddington, London.

Microsoft Office Specialist Certification is offered to students at St Helens College alongside their full-time course in order to boost their employability. The qualification gives students a way to become tangibly prepared for the world of work.

Mark, a former Rainford High Technology College pupil said, "I am currently studying for my BTEC IT Level 3 Extended Diploma at the College. I decided to come to St Helens College after taking a shot of working in a full-time role in the sales industry and it wasn't for me. When I lost that job I began looking at qualifications at St Helens College in order to obtain a more enjoyable and rewarding career path.”

Mark added, “I thought the competition would be a great way to upskill and build my confidence. I think it will be a really enjoyable experience, and I hope to learn more whilst I am down there competing. I pretty much enjoy everything about the course, I have always had an interest in computers and my tutors here at the College have been nothing but supportive.”

Paul Hatton, Head of Department for Computing at St Helens College said "Mark has done incredibly well to get this far, he has shown a great aptitude for the subject. We are delighted to be supporting him in the next stages and it presents an excellent opportunity for him to develop industry skills, network and enhance his CV. The qualification is industry recognised and will certainly impress prospective universities and employers."

Andrew Lenehan, Regional Account Manager for Prodigy Learning who provides the certification at St Helens College said "The MOS world championship has been running for a number of years, with the main aim to drive up digital skills. From a UK and Liverpool City Region perspective it sits very well with the Digital Agenda of the Government. The UK has a great recent history in the competition with three winners in the last 5 years, with the College having three students competing in the UK final last year. We are delighted at the success of St Helens College."

Mark hopes to go on to a career within software robotics once he has completed his course and believes having the experience of competing in such a prestigious competition will give him great attributes towards this career path.

If successful at the national final, Mark will battle it out in a four-day final in Florida to scoop a $7,500 prize.

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