Training Gap

Certification Magazine|April 2020

Training Gap
Six important career skills that IT certification programs are overlooking
AARON AXLINE

Information technology certifications can be broadly divided into two categories: certifications that are primarily knowledge- and task-oriented, and certifications that include content specific to developing careers in the industry.

For example, Cisco refers to its IT professional credentials as “career certifications,” meaning that these certifications are meant to provide candidates with skills that go beyond daily on-the-job tasks. Microsoft certifications have become very job-oriented, but the company still stresses the career value of its credentials to IT pros.

That said, there are highly relevant career skills that are only marginally represented by any current IT industry certification program. These career skills are often covered by electives found in college degree programs. It can be argued that these same skills deserve more attention from any certification vendor that touts its credentials as being career-oriented.

My purpose for this article is to review six essential areas of professional expertise that should have a stronger presence in current IT career certification programs.

Co-worker training

No matter what segment of the IT industry you end up working in, you will eventually be called upon to train a co-worker. You might have to help that person understand your employer's internal systems, or how to perform specific tech-related job duties.

For example, you might be expected to train a new hire on a ticket system used to report bugs found in a software product under development. Or perhaps it will be up to you to show someone how — and when — to use the company's incident reporting software.

The ability to train co-workers is rarely mentioned in an IT job description, but the majority of tech companies expect their experienced employees to take this task on when the time comes.

More to the point, very few people are naturally gifted at training others. Some people have an instinctive proficiency for teaching the ins and out of how to perform this specific job task, or how to use that new hardware. Such individuals tend to be the exception, however, not the rule.

While there are certification programs for creating new IT instructors — CompTIA's CTT+ is one example — very few certifications include any foundation-level knowledge of how to train other people on IT-specific systems. It would be beneficial to include best practices for training co-workers and contractors in any certification program geared towards mid-level and higher candidates.

Project management fundamentals

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April 2020