The IT industry is crying out for skilled professionals and big salaries are being offered to those with in-demand skills, so it's no surprise that many people interested in or currently working in IT are spending money and time to gain IT certifications recognised by the industry. Is the rise in IT skills providers helping the worldwide IT skills crisis, or is it just lining the pockets of the burgeoning IT and business training sector? The answer is both, but the skills gap still exists.
A survey conducted by Prometric and GartnerGroup in 2000 of 250 IT managers in the US found most candidates who pursue certification do so to increase their productivity and credibility within their organisations. A few candidates pursue certification to increase their compensation and even fewer so they can change jobs. Most managers could not think of any drawbacks to certification, although some identified possible drawbacks being potential employee departure upon obtaining certification and higher employee costs and time away from the office to gain certification.
Both managers and employees agreed that it is important to keep certifications up to date. While classroom training is still the most popular with managers, technology-based training is increasing in popularity as managers realise that self-study costs less, takes less time and reduces the total cost.
Com Tech Education Services' independent survey of training managers in 2000 found certified training is seen as a positive solution to the skills crisis, with 74 per cent of managers interviewed considering certification to be an essential part of the training process. However, the majority of respondents admitted that they have not committed to as much training as their organisation requires.
Straight from school
Jamieson Yee took the plunge into certification after finishing high school, selecting a Microsoft certification course, an A+ hardware and software qualification at Com Tech. At the completion of these qualifications Yee chose a job with Travel.com, considering the company to be less corporate and more fun. Yee plans to commence a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer in Windows 2000 program.
Java in demand
A spokesperson for Sun Education said, "People are desperate to get the piece of paper as evidence that they are certified Java programmers. The problem is they sit the exam as soon as they have finished the course, and a lot of people fail. They need to go away and assimilate all they have learned, use what they have learned and if possible get a bit of experience before sitting the Prometric certification exam."
It can easily become a costly exercise, too, at $275 for each attempt at the exam. The explosion of e-commerce has meant an increased need for Java programmers, who in turn are able to command substantial dollars.
Best-before Cisco date
In the ever-changing technology world, certifications gained can quickly lose currency and need to be updated. All of Cisco's current certifications expire in September 2001 unless Cisco professionals undertake recertification exams by then. The company says Cisco recertification is a tangible indication to IT professionals and organisations alike that the certificate holder has kept up with current trends in technology. Cisco assures that certificate holders have not only met high standards, but continue to keep their skills up to date. Candidates with CCNA, CCDA, CCNP or CCDP status must be recertified every three years. Specialisation certifications are also required every two years.
GlobalKnowledge reports that "candidates who wish to achieve "Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Security specialisation must complete some additional exams, especially in the security area. To assist candidates to pass these exams, Global Knowledge is running new Security courses.
Choose the right skill
ExecuTrain offers a program called MeasureUp Certification which provides a path to assess and help certify IT professionals and choose the right skill for each situation. John Threlfall, managing director of ExecuTrain Australia, said, "MeasureUp is the catalyst that can enable assessment of IT skills for individuals or entire departments, and helps people thinking of a new career or an established professional looking for the latest in certification criteria."
Sun Microsystems Education
Sun Certified Programmer for Java 2 platformSun Certified Developer for Java 2 platformEnterprise Architect for Java 2 platformNetGwww.netg.comA+ CertificationLotus Notes R4 & R5International Computer Driving Licenceplus moreGlobal Knowledgewww.globalknowledge.com.auCisco certificationsNortel Networks certificationsDrakewww.drakeintl.com/trainingMicrosoft MCP and MCSE (Windows 2000) CIW Designer and Administrator CompTIA A+ (a hardware certification from CompTIA) plus moreExecuTrainwww.executrain.comAll popular Microsoft certificationsLotus R5 Application DeveloperNovell-Certified Novell AdministratorCertified Internet Webmaster (CIW)plus moreSmartForcewww.smartforce.comE-commerce certification courses added to Novell, Cisco and Microsoft certification coursesCom Tech Education Serviceswww.comtech.com.auAll popular Microsoft certification coursesAll Cisco certification plus moreTAFE NSWwww.tafensw.edu.auInformation Technology (Business Analysis)Graduate Certificate in IT Knowledge SystemsGraduate Certificate in IT (Electronic Commerce)Interim Technologywww.interimtechnology.com.auNovell and Microsoft certification coursesCertified Internet Webmaster (CIW)Technology Solutionswww.technologysolutions.com.auIntel CertificationEducomwww.educom.com.auOracle Certified Professional ProgramCertifed Internet Webmaster (CIW)Also Lotus, Novell, Cisco, Microsoft, Inet and Citrix certification courses