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IT certification – a must for today’s design professionals

11 February 2013

It is great news that so many graduates are leaving schools, colleges and universities with more design qualifications. However, given the current challenging economic climate the market is very competitive, with graduates and creative professionals alike battling for the same roles. 

Graeme Phillips

With the prospect of unemployment an ever growing concern, it is even more important to stand out from the crowd and make the most of an extended skillset. Graeme Phillips reports.

With the IT landscape changing so rapidly it is vital that employees stay up-to-date with technical knowledge and can work with state-of-the-art software. As such, graduates and design professionals alike should consider taking an accredited IT certification course to ensure that their skills are not only up to scratch but so they have documentation to validate their abilities.

Taking an extra exam could potentially accelerate personal professional development and improve productivity of workers across a whole organisation – it’s an opportunity not to be missed.

There is increasing evidence that interest in IT certification is growing among design and engineering employees. For example, the number of people taking Autodesk certification exams at the software vendor’s annual Autodesk University event has increased by around 50 percent over the past decade. And a free certification exam day has also been made available throughout EMEA in 2011 and again in 2012, with thousands of professionals and graduates taking part.

Those choosing to take part in the exams, simply have to choose the level of certification they wish to complete and learn what is required from them during the programme. Today’s certification exams are not designed to catch out those completing them. Experienced certification providers will run the relevant revision course and training programmes to ensure that all candidates are up to scratch before taking the exam. The aim is to boost participants’ confidence, which will in turn help to improve productivity in the workplace as business decisions are likely to be carried out more efficiently. 

Many design professionals may think that IT learning schemes are solely for recent graduates but that is simply not the case. In fact, while graduates often don’t have the experience of working in the design industry, they do have a deep understanding of the latest technologies. Universities and colleges often run a range of more sophisticated technical courses. As a result, students graduate with higher levels of technology skills, putting even greater pressure on the existing workforce to be competitive.

While, graduates are turning to certification to help get a foot on the career ladder, experienced professionals should be considering learning as a means of enhancing their ideas and practice methods. Simply preparing for certification helps improve performance by strengthening existing skills and developing new ones through their study of the exam objectives. Typically, certification can help to accelerate development, improve productivity and enhance credibility. 

Achieving certification also allows design professionals to gain an industry-recognised credential that acts as proof of their skill levels and strengthens their CV – it may just swing things your way in an interview. In a recent OnePoll survey carried out on behalf of education and training distributor, KnowledgePoint, it was found that over half of the respondents polled felt it was important or very important for design professionals to have certification qualifications on key design products and solutions. 

To achieve the best results, design professionals need to ensure that they are taking on the most appropriate certification. Best practice training should provide immediate diagnostic feedback, helping candidates to identify areas where they can improve their application skills and performance-based testing. When being tested, rather than simply answering questions about how they might accomplish an objective, candidates should perform the task itself using real-life applications.

It is also critical that the certification chosen is globally recognised and portable. The ongoing globalisation of IT certification schemes can help design engineers become active players in the international jobs market. An individual passing a certification exam in India needs to know the qualification means the same as an employee passing the scheme in the UK.  

Going global 
Engaging with training and certification schemes can also help businesses win a competitive edge against other companies, particularly against firms in emerging regions that endorse certification and have large numbers of employees registered on these schemes. Rolling out schemes to employees, businesses can be confident that when they pitch for large projects, potential customers can validate there ability by taking the number of certifications into account. 

There is a growing understanding that certification provides key validation that individuals have the core skills they need in the products that they use daily. With this in mind, there is a positive change to the number of Western enterprises and their staff taking on certification schemes. And, if a large group of colleagues attend the same certification scheme, it is also more likely to drive peer competition, in turn pushing up the level of results. Candidates inevitably enjoy the kudos, the sense of personal satisfaction and pride that goes with exam success and like to compare themselves with their peers.

Best practice IT certification programmes can provide enhanced competitive edge, not just for the worker but a business as well. When battling for business or a new career opportunity, it is vital that both the worker and company can show they are fully equipped to meet any specific design requirements. With a full understanding of all the latest technical knowledge and an accredited award in hand, it becomes easier for a prospective employer or client to assess the quality of the employee or firm, making it more likely that business is won or a new job role is secured. 

Graeme Phillips is Autodesk programme manager, EMEA, KnowledgePoint


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