CompTIA's mission critical

The region in great need of well-trained IT professionals across sectors

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CompTIA's mission critical Plunkett says a vendor-neutral certification provides a much broader start in providing more options after graduation.
By  David Ndichu Published  May 22, 2016

Cloud, mobility and others are pushing the pace of technology further and stretching the talents required in the industry.

Increased investments in IT in the Middle East generally and the UAE in particular means demand for IT skills to support that infrastructure is growing.

This translates into greater willingness within the UAE to put skills acquisition at the forefront, says Mark Plunkett, regional director of Europe, Middle East and emerging markets at CompTIA. Cyber security skills are particularly in high demand, Plunkett adds.

Security attacks are being increasingly publicised and as a result of that there’s real attention to cyber security in the region. Dubai, being a key commercial and financial hub and regarded as a soft target brings the issue of cyber security to the forefront.  CompTIA is working with various government bodies here in the UAE to specifically address the cyber security skills requirement issue, says Plunkett.

The UAE in particular is making the efforts to build capable cyber security capabilities, Plunkett notes. Those efforts starts with a general education and awareness programme with the Ministry of Interior particularly keen on cyber awareness programmes to raise the overall skills level of the nationals. The human error element within cyber security is usually the weakest link and by upgrading the skills and training, employees can be able to spot some of the social engineering attacks that are going on which will in turn help defend against some of these attacks taking place.

CompTIA was formed over 30 years ago to advance the IT industry, evolving to help ensuring there are sufficiently skilled individuals within the IT industry to support the technology. A lot of vendors at the time had their own training programmes to support their own technology and CompTIA was asked to come up with a more generic training that offered a vendor-neutral certification. Since then the technology and training has grown from the PC world to networking, routing and switching, through to security and today to newer areas such as mobility.

The organisation has successfully partnered with various government entities across the region, says Plunkett. These include institutions within the academic sector in the UAE with secondary technical schools and AD Polytechnic, Government entities in Oman including the Ministry of Education and the IT Authority, various entities across Kuwait including the Gulf University of Science and Technology and in Qatar, with the country’s Ministry of Interior.

CompTIA’s efforts with education institutions are crucial, says Plunkett, as a first step in getting young people interested in IT as a career and educate the students on the opportunities within IT.

Indeed, Plunkett notes, there’s a skills gap globally and regionally, with fewer people getting into the IT industry than required. This is having the effect of squeezing the pool of skilled people in the industry, further exacerbated by the rapid pace technological change. “We now have cloud and mobility adoption, which are pushing that pace of technology further and stretching the talents that are required. All that is having an effect on the number of suitably qualified people able to support the prevailing IT environment,” says Plunkett.

The relatively small pool of talent is also keeping wages high, Plunkett adds.

The role of IT personnel has changed in regard to operating systems as well with Linux and Mac OS now fighting for desktop space with Microsoft.

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