By Mark Cox
A new study from IT trade association CompTIA is sort of a two-edged sword on the value of IT certifications.
The good news is that employers are inclined to rely more heavily on professional certifications when hiring IT workers. Professional certifications are already viewed by hiring managers as a high-value validation of IT skills. And the study suggests certifications will grow in importance as organizations seek to fill tech jobs.
The bad news is that credential evaluation and validation issues impair the ability of employers to recognize and reward well certified persons as fully as they should.
Among IT hiring managers nearly two-thirds (64 percent) rate IT certifications as having extremely high or high value in validating skills and expertise. Eight in ten human resources (HR) professionals surveyed believe IT certifications will grow in usefulness and importance over the next two years.
But employers also expressed concerns about some aspects of using IT certifications in the hiring process. There is a perception among some hiring IT managers that the HR department does not have a solid understanding of IT certifications. Some firms also said verifying a job candidate’s credentials can be a challenge. 44 percent of hiring IT managers said that this was due to the time involved, while 38 percent said it was because of the effort required.
"The value of certifications can be enhanced in a numbers of ways," said Tim Herbert, vice president, research, CompTIA. "Stronger links with education; easier methods of verification; greater understanding of what IT certifications can and cannot do; and more organizational support for certifications as part of a professional development program all would be positive steps in this direction."
Nearly 1,700 business, HR and IT executives participated in the survey, designed to gain insight into how they evaluate job candidates; the role of IT certifications in the hiring process; and how organizations support professionals’ development.
Experience, track record and accomplishments rank as the most important factors when evaluating job candidates, according to the study. But education and credentials such as certifications also rank high. For example, 86 percent of hiring managers indicate IT certifications are a high or medium priority during the candidate evaluation process.
"From the employer’s perspective, top benefits of IT certification are validation of an individual’s ability to understand new or complex technologies, higher productivity and more insightful problem solving," said Herbert.
The study suggests that certifications will become even more important as employers struggle to find individuals to fill job openings. Despite a virtual buyer’s market for hiring, roughly eight in ten HR executives in the United States said it’s challenging to find the right candidate with the right skill set to fill their openings. Many IT managers in the study share a similar view. For certain positions, the pool of available talent is not as deep as they would like it to be.
"Now more than ever there’s little margin for error for making a bad hire," Herbert said. "In an environment of needing to do more with less, organizations cannot afford the time and cost of bringing on a new employee who cannot contribute immediately." The CompTIA study Employer Perception of IT Training and Certification is the result of two separate online surveys: to 1,385 business and IT executives that made a recent IT hiring decision in the United States, United Kingdom and South Africa; and to 300 HR professionals in the U.S.