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New Qualification For Data Protection Industry Launched

PDP Training : 30 March, 2010  (Technical Article)
As the data protection sector wins professional status in the UK, the Practitioner Certificate in Data Protection brings formal qualification for data protection workers
The UK's rapidly expanding data protection sector is to be recognized with the introduction of a new professional qualification.

The move comes as tough new rules introduced next month will mean UK organisations can be fined up to £500,000 if they fail to comply with data protection legislation.

Now the launch of a new professional qualification for data protection workers will recognize their professional status and ensure high standards for the industry.

Ten years ago the role of data protection officer didn't exist in the UK yet today there are an estimated 25,000 data protection professionals in the country - and that number is set to grow further over the coming years.

The new Practitioner Certificate in Data Protection has been developed in consultation with industry watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and is set to become the industry benchmark for those working in the field of data protection and privacy.

To qualify candidates must undergo five days of face to face teaching, study course materials and pass a written examination. Modules on offer include handling access requests, international data transfers and Freedom of Information and data protection.

The introduction of the new qualification will define and further legitimize a profession which didn't exist in the UK until a decade ago. Even five years ago there were only around 2,500 data protection professionals, just ten per cent of today's estimated total.

Mr Peter Carey, of PDP Training, the company who have developed the qualification in consultation with the ICO, said the number employed in the sector is set to rocket as small and medium sized organisations become aware of their legal obligations under data protection legislation.

Mr Carey, who also heads up the examination board for the new certificate, said: "Although the UK's largest companies and organisations are aware of their data protection responsibilities, many other organisations and sectors are rapidly catching up.

"Middle sized organisations now realize that they need to do something. And as data protection grows in importance, more people will be employed in the role within the larger organisations.

"The data protection regulator, the Information Commissioner's Office continues to publicise the importance of data protection. After next month the ICO will have the power, for the first time, to directly fine organizations if they fail to comply with the law."

Individuals have a set of rights under data protection law, such as the right to obtain a copy of all data held on them by any organisation and are increasingly becoming aware of those rights.

Mr Carey added that as those rights are increasingly exercised more and more work is created for data protection officers within organisations.

He said: "We will see data protection continuing to grow in significance and the role of the data protection officer, and team, become more prominent in organisations."

In some countries of the EU it is compulsory for larger organisations to employ data protection officers. That may happen here, although it's unlikely in the near future.
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