No Image Available

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Just a piece of paper?


Trainers know that students like to have a certificate or some other evidence of their success after completing a course successfully. However, think back to your own career. How often are those pieces of paper stashed away in the loft, never to see the light of day – degree certificates alongside those for cycling proficiency and swimming a width of the school pool?

This could all change  - in part, down to growing globalisation. In some regions such as China and the rest of South-East Asia, exam passes and qualifications – with a certificate as evidence – are seen as fundamental to the hiring process and to career mobility.

When Autodesk, developer of some of the world’s most widely-used design software, first launched its certification scheme, 89,000 Chinese designers were certified in the first year. Growth is also strong in the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and in Eastern Europe, regions where the overall expansion of the IT market has accelerated over recent years. IT and design professionals from newer economies recognise that certification will not only enable them to compete for jobs in the West, but also on home ground where IT services and application development are strong sources of revenue.

In contrast, until recently Western Europe has demonstrated a laissez-faire attitude towards certification. Here, many employees are self-taught and levels of expertise vary hugely. In a recent UK survey by OnePoll on behalf of KnowledgePoint, only one in three of the engineering design professionals polled had taken certification exams. So how can employers quickly judge whether a job applicant who claims knowledge of a software package really is an authority on best practice - or has only used the software once or twice?

As international tenders become more common, businesses in the West are responding so that they can compete on an equal footing. If skills can be validated by certification, this suggests that a company will be able to provide the consistency needed to ensure quality of service.

However, this is one area where employees themselves are driving the change. In the survey, 59% of respondents thought it important to have certification qualifications. But only half said that their organisation actively encouraged them to pursue these, with 51% saying they would be interested in pursuing certification themselves.

The other factor driving a change of attitude is our current topsy-turvy employment situation. In some industries – particularly engineering – there are still significant skills shortages. Yet unemployment figures are still well over two million. The retirement age has been raised so that many of us will have to keep working well into our late sixties. At the same time unemployment among the under-25s is over one million.

Many employers say that it’s not a problem finding staff per se, the difficulty is finding the right staff who can hit the ground running. Often school and university students have been taught on outdated software and using traditional methods when in real-life the industry has moved on. Certification proves to a prospective employer that an applicant can actually do the job.

It can work well for older employers too. In the KnowledgePoint survey, 71% of those polled said that they thought certification was important compared to 51% of younger respondents. Perhaps this indicates that older engineers, who began their careers using traditional skills but have adapted as new ideas are introduced, feel vulnerable. They recognise that certification will ensure they are up to speed with new applications and methods and provide the piece of paper to prove it.

So, certificates are becoming far more than ‘just a piece of paper’ – in the IT world at least. For an employer certification minimises some of the risk involved in employing new recruits. But, importantly, employees are also finding that it’s good for their career too, validating skills levels, proving a knowledge of best practice and demonstrating a commitment to professional development and lifelong learning.

No Image Available

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.

Thank you!