Youngsters who took part in an information technology (IT) quiz say they now have a better understanding of software packages related to their studies and jobs. More than 170 computer whizz kids vied for 30 places in the Hong Kong Youth Skills Competition on information technology. The computer quiz was one of 19 tests on cookery, engineering design, mechanics and construction techniques organised by the Vocational Training Council (VTC). The skills competition is co-organised by the Construction Industry Training Authority, the Clothing Industry Training Authority and the Industrial Centre of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The IT champion - to be announced next month - will represent Hong Kong at the International Youth Skills Olympics in Canada in November, together with the 18 other winners. Ephraim Tsang Siu-wah, manager of VTC's Information Technology Centre, said computer proficiency was increasingly important. 'Competitors showed good skills in database, spreadsheet-processing packages and Internet applications, which are important for their studies and future careers.' Mr Tsang, who headed the working group on the IT contest, called for more resources to test youngsters' creativity in multimedia and Web- page design. George Chan Chun-wai and Eric Yeung Wai-kit, both IT students at Chai Wan Technical College, have already won computer competitions. They won the IT Expo quiz, which tested them on networking, operating systems, integrated computer packages and Internet knowledge. Chun-wai said the VTC's document-processing practical test was more difficult than AS-level Com puter Applications. 'Some of the skills are advanced. I learned some functions quickly with the help of tutorials.' Wai-kit said his ideal IT competition was not a practical test on standard packages, but on networking, operating systems and administration of integrated applications. Meanwhile, the VTC is planning to set up an IT assessment centre to test whether potential employees have the computer skills required for their jobs. Mr Tsang said many employers had no way to ensure a job applicant's computer literacy level. 'We will provide walk-in written and practical tests,' he said.