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Certification Watch (Vol. 22, No. 47)

In this week's roundup of the lastest IT certification news, Certiport has a new certification to help students and young professionals learn soft skills, Certification Magazine has another tale of youthful IT derring-do, and more.

Certiport Launches New Soft Skills Certification


Certiport is launching a new certification to teach soft skills to students and IT professionals.Just like Liam Neeson needed a very particular set of skills to rescue his daughter that one time in that one movie, the right mix of skills is essential to success in information technology. You have to have the right IT skills, of course, which vary depending on your chosen specialization. In recent years, however, employers and industry observers have stressed the importance of also having the right "soft" skills: Successful IT professionals must communicate effectively, collaborate productively, and so forth. Soft skills are often thought to fall under the label of "learn by doing," but certification and training provider Certiport is out to change all of that with the launch of its new Communication Skills for Business (CSB) certification program. Individuals who attain the first-of-its-kind CSB credential will learn how to "effectively communicate in a dynamic business environment." The program also addresses critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and other core soft skills. There are no prerequisites for the new certification program, though Certiport does recommend that candidates have "approximately 150 hours of instruction and hands-on experience in formal communication theory and practice."


CompTIA Releases Newest Version of Cloud Essential+ Cert


There are few if any areas of the IT industry that don't involve cloud computing either directly or indirectly. Whatever niche you intend to fill in IT, you're almost certainly going to need some level of understanding of what cloud computing is and how it functions. The Cloud Essentials+ certification was created by CompTIA to help both business and IT professionals gain a working knowledge of cloud technology without straying too far into the nuts and bolds of cloud implementation, cloud provisioning, and so forth. It's intended to instill a degree of basic cloud fluency. After launching in October of 2011, Cloud Essentials+ (called simply "Cloud Essentials" in its inagurual iteration) remained unchanged until last week, when a new version with an expanded and overhauled exam was released. Whereas the old exam had just 50 questions, the new one can have as many as 75; all questions are multiple choice and the exam must be completed in 60 minutes. The required passing score is 720 (on a scale of 100 to 900), and the exam cost is a thrifty $119 for U.S. residents.


Skills Gaps Cause More Headaches Than Just Hiring


The existence and proliferation of so-called IT "skills gaps" — the shortfall between the demand for a particular brand of tech acumen and the supply of workers well-versed in that brand — has been acknowledged and grudgingly accepted for at least the past decade. Depending on who you ask, there's either not enough IT talent or not enough low-salaried young IT talent to keep all of the businesses that rely on IT skills thriving. A recent post to the IT and Technical Training blog of business skills development firm Training Industry, however, suggests that the problem is more complex than just certain businesses struggling to make good hires. Blogger Ryan Day says that not being able to hire qualified personnel causes numerous problems that sometimes fly under the corporate radar. For example, Day says, exisiting employees at understaffed firms must deal with heavier burdens of respsonsibility and learning, which can increase stress to the point of burnout. Even if employees don't get burn out altogether, performance and productivity are both negatively affected. No one business can address the industry-wide shortage of skilled professionals, but Day has some suggestions that individual firms can follow to minimize the negative impact of skills gaps.


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