By Steve Philp, The Open Group
At the beginning of every new calendar year, many organizations discuss with employees specific job-related objectives and career development plans for the next 12 months and beyond. For many individuals, certification is highlighted as something that they should be working towards during the course of the year.
Until recently, virtually all IT certifications have been based on an individual’s recollection of a body of knowledge and his/her ability to pass a computer-based test. Unfortunately, these certifications do not prove that you can apply this knowledge successfully in practice. To achieve certified status you usually have to attend the relevant training course or read the appropriate self-study material before taking the examination. However, knowledge in itself is not an accurate measure of competence and, while question-based tests are practical and objective, they are also more susceptible to fraud.
Perhaps a better method of evaluating competence to carry out a specific role is to examine the skills and experience that an individual has demonstrated in his/her work. This type of certification usually requires you to prepare some form of written application followed by either an individual or panel interview which may or may not involve a formal presentation as part of the process.
In recent years, The Open Group has developed the IT Architect Certification (ITAC) and IT Specialist (ITSC) programs that are based entirely on skills and experience, and that assess an individual’s “people skills” as well as their technical abilities. There is no test-based examination but instead, applicants must complete a comprehensive application package and then be interviewed by three existing certified board members. Each of the interviews last for one hour and gives the candidate the opportunity to explain to the interviewer how they have met the conformance requirements of the program.
Many organizations around the world have identified this type of skills- and experienced-based program as a necessary part of the process to develop their own internal IT profession. These certifications can also be used in the recruitment process and help to guarantee a consistent and quality-assured service on project proposals, procurements and on service level agreements. As a result, the benefit of achieving this type of IT certification often proves to be much more rewarding for both individuals and organizations.
Steve Philp is the Marketing Director for the IT Architect and IT Specialist certification programs at The Open Group. Over the past 20 years, Steve has worked predominantly in sales, marketing and general management roles within the IT training industry. Based in Reading, UK, he joined The Open Group in 2008 to promote and develop the organization’s skills and experience-based IT certifications.