Time and technology waits for no one
The IT industry operates on a base of standardised platforms, of which certified skills training should be considered a vital component
How much does your business plan to spend on IT training this year? Often the team is not a profit centre so that can immediately impact the budget made available. As a result, individuals look for conferences to attend where networking or sales leads are also on offer, or are encouraged to find ‘cost effective’ training programmes to develop knowledge. In the Middle East, according to our 2013 International Technology Adoption & Workforce Issues research, regional investment in IT skills education is high with 94% of IT staff engaging in some form of training in the last 12 months. And any training is better than none, right? …Wrong!
Spot the difference
Certification is the sometimes forgotten, but always important, part of training. Training without certification never delivers its full value for money. It’s akin to boarding a plane and landing several hours’ later at the airport from which you took off. You gained all the experience of the journey but you didn’t get a stamp in your passport that says you reached any destination. The cost might be kept down, but you’re missing half the value!
Think about why your company invests in training. The progress of technology innovation is relentless, meaning that skills can quickly become outdated and knowledge gaps are a natural and recurring feature. Training is usually aimed at equipping teams to close those gaps and prepare the business to move forward with the right technology and capabilities. If you don’t certify, you have no idea whether the training achieved what it was supposed to.
In cloud computing, for example, our survey shows that Middle East businesses are ahead of the global average with 62% of respondents either experimenting with or fully using cloud computing technology today. Yet 40% highlight staff skills and experience as a major hurdle.
Companies are spending to build IT skills in the workplace, and many are also actively recruiting this year. Without some kind of standardised certification on which to benchmark skills, training, and the calibre of prospective candidates, how can a business make an informed decision and invest with confidence?
Turning up the volume
The call for IT certification amongst the region’s business executives has never been louder. Four-fifths of executives predict that the value of recognised certification will grow over the next two years, although many do not state any specific position on certification at present. This suggests we are on the verge of a swift upswing in demand for formal accreditation, as executives realise its business value.
Already 82% of regional executives believe that staff holding industry-led certifications are more valuable to the organisation, and extend benefits to the whole team. Faced with a gap in the quantity and quality of skilled professionals in the market that many regard as ‘extensive’, regional executives are beginning to look for ways to identify the strongest candidates.
For individuals, industry-led certification not only bolsters your CV, it also indicates that you are able to learn and expand your skills in the future. We find that business executives view certified employees as more effective problem solvers, and more confident in embracing new technologies. It suggests that you can make an immediate, positive contribution to the organisation.
Pressure is also coming from customers that outsource their IT services, who are increasingly aware of the importance of skills validation by their chosen partner. Certification can be a key differentiator in the procurement process, particularly when a business is comparing bids from different countries and looking for common ground for evaluation. Companies whose staff are trained but not certified risk losing out on lucrative contracts because they can’t demonstrate their staff meet the required standards — even if they do.
Tomorrow’s skills, today
It is critical for education and training in the IT industry to cover the skills needed to meet the real-life challenges being faced. But we also need to assess that training to ensure it delivered, and to show others that those who went through the training meet the standard expected of them. You wouldn’t trust a doctor unless you were confident he met an accepted industry standard, and rightly so. So why not also demand high standards of your IT staff.
Academics tend to be vocal about qualifications and accreditation, constantly reviewing standards and updating them to address the changing environment they serve. Similarly, industries such as science and engineering are active in calling for relevant skills to be taught in schools and universities to bring a constant stream of new talent into the market. Surprisingly, the IT profession has been much quieter, despite its critical importance to today’s commercial world.
Knowing what the industry challenges are and developing the right solutions is one of our biggest tasks, and if it’s not addressed then the skills gap we see in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world will only be exacerbated over time.
CompTIA, as the global IT trade association, has long been involved in developing IT certifications in collaboration with industry. We consult widely with our members about their needs and identify which areas would benefit from new or updated certifications so that our accreditation stays relevant. We ask businesses to be open about their problems and take an active role in the training solutions to resolve them. With these experts involved from the start, we can confidently say that CompTIA certified professionals have received training in the best practice and skills genuinely needed by the industry.
John McGlinchey is vice president for CompTIA in Europe and the Middle East.
1251 days ago
Valid points, relevant to the current scenario and lucidly explained. makes reading interesting. Thanks!!
1253 days ago
Author clearly explains about training, think about any company they are keep on spending millions of rupees in training to improve their staff talent so that it can be used for improving business.