Only one candidate has passed a tough new qualification for web technicians set up by the London Internet Exchange (Linx).
Rob Lister is the first person to become a Linx Accredited Internet Technician at advanced level. Three other candidates failed to make the grade.
The training programme was launched last November with the aim of increasing the number and competence of people who build and maintain the UK's internet infrastructure.
Several groups have successfully passed the entry and intermediate examinations, but Lister, a Linx senior network engineer, found out this month that he was the only candidate to top the 70 per cent mark required for advanced accreditation.
But he is putting any celebrations on hold. "It feels a bit lonely celebrating on your own," he said. "I wish some more people would hurry up and pass."
The intensive five-day module followed by an exam tested candidates' expertise on IP issues including border gateway control, multi-protocol label switching, security firewalls and virtual private networks.
Coursework reinforced the understanding of how the internet, rather than specific vendor equipment, works.
Lister explained that he found it hard work, but worth it. "It's not designed to be easy," he said.
"I had no idea whether I'd passed or failed by the end. It was challenging but I've learned a great deal because the course didn't just focus on Cisco.
"It's very IP-oriented. I can take knowledge and apply it to other vendors. If strange things happen, it's not so scary because I'll know what to do."
The other three candidates who failed do not work for Linx, but Hugh Spencer, Linx training manager and course founder, insisted that there was no favouritism.
"We can't be seen to be favouring anyone," he said. "Rob Lister absorbs information like a sponge so I wasn't surprised that he passed, but we want people to get through. There's no point in having people fail.
"We paid for the development of the course because our internet service provider members want to improve the standard of training of engineers within the industry.
"The resilience of the UK internet infrastructure depends on the skills of the engineers who maintain it."
Steve Groombridge, founder of Surrey-based Systems & Network Training, which delivers the course, explained that the high failure rate underlines the rigorous nature of the exam.
"I'm not disappointed that only one person passed," he said. "Compared to vendor certifications, these exams are tougher. We are not just testing facts, but the application of facts.
"The three who failed are re-sitting it, but there's no getting away from the high failure rate. This accreditation establishes the highest standards of technical competence."
The entry level Linx Accredited Internet Technician course costs £1,495 with intermediate and advanced costing £1,795.
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