CompTIA is developing a convergence certification with the support of industry players like Intel, Avaya and Catalyst Telecom that they say will provides a way of measuring competencies in voice and data.
Executives said the
certification, which will be vendor-neutral, is expected to be available next year. The Computing Technology Industry Association has been involved in developing standards and best practices in IT for the past 23 years, and has 20,000 members in 102 countries. More than one million IT professionals hold CompTIA certifications.
“Just because you know voice and data doesn’t mean you know convergence,” said Edward Migut, director of CompTIA’s Convergence Group.
The aim is to cross-train IT professionals in telecom and datacom, creating a convergent workforce. This could include technicians that are able to troubleshoot hybrid networks or those looking to broaden their IT skill sets.
The association is in a position to deliver this certification, said Migut, because it already has the infrastructure and a global channel in place.
Over the past three years, members have been requesting a convergence certification, he said. Only now, however, is there a solid business case and viable ROI, as companies begin to replace their PBXs with an IP infrastructure.
“(For) a lot of service providers out there, the applications are what they’re looking for,” he said. “The technology is transparent.”
The benefits of a convergence certification include lower costs for training, recruiting and hiring, according to CompTIA. It also hopes that by creating a certification that validates technical skills, it will help grow the convergence market and accelerate the adoption curve of new technologies.
CompTIA expects to roll out its certification program on a global scale next year, at the beginning of the second quarter. It has a methodology in place for creating certification programs, a process that requires validating knowledge and ensuring competencies.
“Certification in and of itself has had a challenging few years, mainly because of the downturn we’ve seen in IT spending,” said Greg Ambrose, e-learning and skills development program manager at IDC Canada. But when it comes to new technologies or new ways of thinking, he added, it makes sense.
“CompTIA is offering vendor-neutral services, and that’s important in a way because it allows organizations to generalize and they’re able to deal with diverse technologies,” he said.
At the same time, he added, IDC research has shown that vendor-specific certifications are often seen as more attractive because, as an IT professional, you become identified with a branded skill as opposed to purely an idea or technology. “That’s the challenge CompTIA has faced in the past and I’m sure will continue to face,” he said.
However, the association has strong vendor support, Ambrose added, and convergence is a hot topic right now. “It’s clearly where the industry is going,” he said.
Amrbose said he expects this will appeal to large businesses and governments, which will invest in it to train their IT staff. Small and mid-size businesses are more likely to bring in a consultant or contract IT employee for specialized implementations, but they’ll be looking for the appropriate skill sets, which is where certification comes back into play.
Many of CompTIA’s committee members have their own vendor-specific certifications, but Migut said its convergence certification is not meant to compete with them. Rather, it’s seen as a way of establishing baseline competencies to increase the success rate of vendor-specific certifications.
“What’s being discovered is a lot of these people don’t have the basic foundational skills and they are struggling with these vendor-specific certifications,” he said. Vendors are looking for a way to increase their pass rates, he added, and view this as a foundation for developing a stronger vendor-specific workforce.
For the IT professional, it could have other benefits. “With the volatility of the market,” he said, “vendor-specific is good, but if you go to another company that has another vendor, then you (need) skill sets that are transferable.”