A Push for a More Tech-Savvy Workforce

By Christopher Pace

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The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) recently announced two new initiatives that will help IT workers become more tech-savvy and better prepared for jobs in the IT sector and aid organizations in finding workers who are well-trained and able to meet the demands of job openings.

The first development is the implementation of the CompTIA Career Compass, a Web site hosted, managed and financed by CompTIA.

According to the organization, there is a mismatch in the IT industry between unfilled positions and the identification of the appropriate skills for those positions. The organization has developed what they believe will be a solution to this problem - a Web site dedicated to defining IT skills standards, job role descriptions and career paths for workers in the IT environment.

The TechCareer Compass initiative's Web site includes information on more than 100 job roles within six major IT career categories: Network services and operations, information support and help desk, programming and software development, interactive media, Internet/e-business, database development and administration.

IT professionals and employers can use the site to explore potential careers, compare their skills and knowledge to job descriptions, review the latest training options and job standards, market IT to potential workers or use the job descriptions as tools for hiring and promotion.

According to Jeff Milburn, Strategic Training Alliances manager at Intel, one of the companies supporting the new initiative, there is a tremendous value in having a common definition of standards for IT job roles.

"The buzzword-compliant resume may look impressive at first glance, but it doesn't necessarily spell success for the employer," he said. "With TechCareer Compass we have a reference tool that employers, job seekers, learning institution and career counselors can all turn to. Individuals need guidance on how to set a course for career development so that they can market themselves effectively snf set goals for professional development. Educators and learning institutions need a map on which to base the development of curriculum for the working world."

CompTIA is also pushing for standardization through a joint effort with certification program provider Certiport. The two organizations recently announced an initiative to help IT students jumpstart their careers and help define their career paths in the IT industry.

The basic concept is this: students begin their IT study with Certiport's Internet and Computing Core Certification (IC3) and the Microsoft Office User Specialist (MOUS) certification, which provide the students with the foundation needed to enter into CompTIA's A+ Service and Support program. A+ and other industry-accepted CompTIA certifications, such as Network+, Server+ and i-Net+, in turn lead into higher-level vendor-sponsored and vendor-neutral technical certifications.

According to Lutz Ziob, vice president of certification at CompTIA, "The digital literacy skills validated by Certiport's IC3 are hallmarks of a well-prepared A+ certification candidate. The strong capabilities in desktop productivity verified by MOUS without question enhance an IT practitioner's overall skills. These certifications through Certiport give developing IT professionals practical, real-world productivity skills that build a solid foundation for CompTIA A+ certification."

The career-building path will be facilitated by CompTIA's new certification tracking and verification system, which is built around the CompTIA Unique Candidate ID Number Program. During 2002, Certiport will begin furnishing this ID Number to all current and future individuals certified for digital literacy, providing for an easy and effective transfer of certification credentials between the two organizations. Using the Unique Candidate ID Number Program, any Certiport certificant can easily document his or her certification credentials to CompTIA to ensure a smooth transition from program to program, as well as facilitate the offering of other unique benefits such as program discounts.

Editor's note: This story first appeared on itcareersource.com.