With the ever increasingly changing IT workplace many IT managers are looking for more than certification from their prospective and current employees. However, we may not all like it, but it’s a sad fact that in today’s IT market, certification is still essential. Professionals with years of experience are failing to get their preferred jobs if they haven’t got the relevant qualifications. Obviously, certification alone will not get and keep a job in the IT sector, but it’s undeniable that training that combines skills and qualifications should be at the top of any IT worker list of priorities.
For some time now the ‘boot camp’ style of certification has been popular amongst industry professionals. Often these boot camps will require a large amount of self-study prior to attendance, followed by a condensed instructor-led training course. Success is often varied, as students with different skill sets will be attending a course which, should really only be attempted by professionals with experience in the workplace. These courses should be for people solely looking for certification as they already hold the skills to perform the complex tasks required in their workplace.
The truth is that today’s training companies are in huge competition and presentation of company credentials is paramount. So you can end up with a scenario consisting of a class with beginners and experts being trained together, and the trainer under pressure to get as many pupils through as possible. Not an easy task by any means. Over three-quarters of IT professionals (76%) believe that they digest the equivalent of a degree every six months, with the average contractor spending 45 days a year researching the latest news and views.
So is it really possible to gain all the skills and knowledge required in a condensed course?
One example is the widely respected MCSE qualification. The Microsoft Official Circular (MOC) recommends that instructor led courses should take six weeks, with a prerequisite of at least one-year networking experience or A+ and Network+ Comptia exam. Can this really be substituted with 100 hours of self-study followed by three weeks of instructor-led training? We spoke to a Microsoft trainer who suggested that beginners often end up re-attending the course after failing their exams. Also, often they don’t have the appropriate knowledge required before attending the condensed course, and because less time is spent on each topic some skills will inevitably be overlooked with this teaching method.
However, following the MOC track will take longer, thus taking the student out of the workplace for more time. Fine, if you have enough IT staff and an unlimited budget, or you are training to break into the IT market where timescale is not as important.
Most of these problems can be easily corrected by being realistic with your learning capabilities and being honest with the people who are training you. If you are a beginner then an instructor-led MOC course will contain the depth of knowledge required to pass the exam whilst imparting the skills needed in the workplace. If you have three or four years experience and are looking to update or simply certify in the quickest possible time then a condensed course would be more appropriate. The most important thing to remember though when looking for training is to be sure the training company is listening to your needs and shares your realistic point of view. Look for guarantees; so that if you do need more training then it won’t be at your expense.
Be wary of those selling the dream.