Canada’s IT associations give certifications an upgrade

Canadian IT associations are reviving old certification programs and reworking existing ones to offer members more specific skills sets and to better recognize their job experience.

The Society of Internet Professionals (SIP) is in

the process of developing three certification streams that will include privacy-oriented expertise, security and e-business consulting. The SIP Certified Professional status will be granted by passing one core exam and an additional special exam for the selected area of specialty.

Max Haroon, president of Toronto-based SIP, said the voluntary certification effort is intended to elevate professional standards in the Internet industry and to help customers validate the credentials of the professionals they do business with. SIP announced the certification program and the three streams at the Real World Linux show in Toronto last week.

“”I think they like the idea that someone is doing something about it,”” he said. “”For the privacy area, for example, there isn’t any certification at all.””

SIP has also bought the rights to three pre-existing certification streams offered by the Association of Web Professionals (AWP), a Canadian organization that went defunct about a year ago. The AWP streams include certified Web technician (CWT), certified Web developer (CWD) and certified Web manager (CWM). Former AWP members who attained any of these designations can maintain their status by registering with the SIP, Haroon said.

“”Their mandate was similar to ours, except that they were just focusing on (the) Web, whereas we are focusing on the entire spectrum of the Internet,”” he said.

While companies like Cisco and Microsoft offer well-known certification programs focused on specific products or technologies, there is an increasing demand for vendor-independent certification, said Rick Penton, vice-president of the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS). Penton is chair of CIPS’s Societal Transition Committee, which has been working since last year on a strategic planning exercise to boost enrollment in the group’s Information Systems Professional (ISP) certification program.

While CIPS is already engaged in events like ISP Week to promote its designation, Penton said the association is tweaking the program criteria to allow for other ways of demonstrating they have the body of knowledge the certification represents.

Right now, for example, the most common way to the ISP designation is to graduate from an accredited educational program and earning several years of work experience. As an alternative path, CIPS’s certification council may take other designations into account or other forms of prior learning assessment and recognition.

“”We don’t want to lower the bar by any means. If anything, we’d like to raise it,”” he said. “”But we do have to recognize that many of the people in the profession who are practicing at a professional level did not come to that point through traditional ranks.””

Haroon said SIP has set up committees of its own which are coming up with a skill task analysis that will allow the association to develop exams for its three new certification streams. “”It’s a very long process,”” he said. “”We are expecting that by the end of this year that they will be able to take the three new exams.””


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