Information Technology (IT) is a skills-driven industry, and many different skills are needed to manage day-to-day business operations. To remain competitive, organisations need to adapt to this rapidly evolving tech landscape. This is why identifying potential employees with the right skills is perhaps the single most important and challenging task IT managers and leaders contend with every day.
To keep their skills arsenal fully stocked, smart employers regularly make large investments in recruitment and training. The process is fraught with challenges. One such challenge is that advertised positions often attracts a large number of applications with not-so-relevant skills. Competition is intense and evaluating competencies and selecting the right candidate can be an arduous task.
Recruitment is also a time consuming, multi-stage process, made more urgent by the fact that project delivery and execution timelines cannot be easily adjusted while onboarding new employees. Many organisations address this challenge by training internal resource pools in required skills. Here again, the constraints of identifying skilled trainers, providing the appropriate training and obtaining the resources to be productive all conspire to slow the process down.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the above challenges, certifications are a great way to help employers find the right skills at a reduced cost in time and money. In fact, certifications are becoming more common across the IT industry.
Here are five reasons why Indian IT companies love certified professionals, and why you should consider earning a few certs:
Validation of knowledge. Valid accreditation from a respected international body assures employers that a candidate has the needed expertise and knowledge to work in a specific domain. Certification organizations like CompTIA and (ISC)2 take elaborate steps to accurately evaluate and provide current training to candidates. Certification (their stamp of approval) confirms that the potential employee has been trained and possesses a sound understanding of the technology.
Acquiring a certification also demonstrates that a candidate is sincere in his or her pursuit of specific skills, as well as being dedicated to continuous learning. Moreover, in order to retain their certifications, credentialed employees are subject to periodic training and reassessment and must remain up-to-date with the latest developments in the field. A potential employer can safely assume that a certified employee is current on the latest advancements and developments in his domain.
Reduced training costs. Training is another means of overcoming the skill challenge in the IT industry. And the cost of training is significant — in 2015 employers worldwide spent almost $356 billion (U.S.) to train employees, an increase of 10.5 percent from 2014.
Costs include trainers, logistics, and study materials, not to mention time away from the job. And even after completion of training, employees may not always be ready to take up assignments. A new employee who arrives on the job with an external certification can drastically reduce the cost of training and project delays by being readily deployable.
Reduced cycle time for recruitment. A large pool of potential employees vying for tech jobs opens up numerous challenges to recruitment. Most often, the evaluation process consists of multiple stages, and candidates have to go through various assessments on technical as well as soft skills before being selected for actual interviews.
The time and stages of evaluating their technical skills and abilities can be significantly reduced by relying on certification by an authorised body. Certifications speed up the construction of the shortlist by being able to bypass the initial stages of technical evaluations. This reduces cost of recruitment and also saves the time required to onboard a new employee.
Strengthens the firm’s resume. Having certified staff members makes it easier to sell the firm’s services to customers. A unique aspect of India’s IT industry is that it is based almost entirely on projects outsourced from foreign multi-national corporations.
Pitching for a new client or project requires one to highlight, among other things, an availability of the right skills and competencies. Having a pool of certified employees on staff helps position the company as capable of handling the job in a professional, timely and thorough manner. Customers feel reassured when the resource pool of an outsourcing partner contains internationally accredited employees.
Reduces cheating and fraud. Intense competition has also exposed the IT selection and evaluation process to fraud and cheating. Countering false identities and cheating during evaluations and interviews is a constant challenge for recruiters and verifying the authenticity of academic credentials and experiences is an elaborate process that can take months to complete.
Certification bodies have evolved a more thorough and stream-lined process to counter fraud and cheating by verifying certifications. Certification exams in India are conducted in secure facilities that candidates can access only after going through a biometric identification. Certification via one of these organizations and their exam centers provides a reassurance that a candidate’s credentials are authentic.
Benefits to workers
While there are ample reasons for employers to value certifications, there is also an added benefit for the credentialed professional. First and foremost is that earning the right and relevant certification can open up numerous opportunities unavailable to non-certified individuals.
The flip-side is that certifications can cost quite a bit of money, especially when you include study materials and trainings. Just remember that certification is an investment, and that the long-term benefits far outweigh the cost and effort of becoming certified.
There are, of course, skeptics who are cynical about the benefits that an individual certification can give to one’s career. They argue that organisations select candidates based on their own evaluation processes, and that a potential employee with a certification alone may not be ready to take up an assignment.
The fact is, however, that HR managers and recruiters are increasingly looking at certifications to help them select candidates with the right depth of knowledge, who are serious about their field of study.
This growing acceptance of certifications by Indian firms is evidenced by the fact that more IT organisations are now reimbursing the cost of taking up some certifications — in some instances even providing paid time off to prepare and appear for the examinations.
Some organisations with well-defined processes have also made applicable certifications a prerequisite for promotions. According to a CompTIA HR Perception of IT Training and Certiﬁcation Study: 2015, “36 percent of all IT employers pay for all certiﬁcation and training expenses” and “31 percent offer paid time-off for studying/training.”
In India, IT certifications from the entry-level to the upper echelons are growing in popularity and impact as a way to begin and improve an IT career. And with almost 1,800 recognized certifications on the market there is something for everyone.