IT Training Products: how to find the right one?

This is the first column of a series of 8 columns on how to select training for IT.

It should help Organizations that want to select training for their IT-specialists or individuals who do not have the support of an HR Department and need to find out themselves how to select IT training.

The content is about what IT Training we see in the marketplace, what rules for regulations there are and how to find Training Providers that are licensed or accredited for the programs.

What kind of training do we refer to?
First we need to limit our content because of the tremendous volumes of available information about IT-training. For that reason we made a choice to mainly bring training in that is relevant for the target group that we have defined.

Most of the training for which we provide details have multiple ways how it is offered. Exams are more and more offered on line, some even from any place, anywhere the candidate has an online connection and is able to show that he/she is not able to use supporting literature or tools. These developments are bringing total new concepts-, like e-learning and blended learning. The availability of learning tools on- line opens new opportunities for people who are looking for inexpensive and on-line training. This all makes it even more difficult to make choices because of quality issues.

We also have to do with new topics, like Big Data, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Internet of Things, and Cyber Security. These topics are important for those whose job it is to use these developments. In the first place CIO’s who are responsible for IT in general! Others who are working as an IT-specialist in many different roles. Some have to do with these developments in jobs that are related to IT. It is evident that more and more jobs have relations with IT, so when we say “IT-related jobs” we mean jobs that need some specific knowledge about and skills associated with IT.

We mainly focus on training that is relevant for persons who are working on their career and have had formal and initial training in the past. They need to be updated with new developments in the field where they had their education for, or they are in new jobs and need new knowledge and skills. For these people it is very important to have insight in what is available, what quality is related to the different training products and what status they get after finalizing the training and, perhaps, certification. Is there any independent supervision on the training provider, is there any independent certification to go to and what value does this have?

For the answers we will first look at the different products and tell how the supervision is governed and what can be said about the quality and status that people gain after doing the training and in most cases pass the exams. We only refer to two frameworks that can be used to find out if this training fits in the model that Organizations and/or individuals are using, because in another column we give more details. These models can help finding out how to select the training. In Europe, the European Commission is supporting a model called “e-skills”: and competencies are having a central place to find out more: Models that can be used are multiple: we only refer to SFIA and E-CF as they are used by some big organizations and it looks like these models are winning the battle.

In some cases we refer to the levels of competencies of SFIA or to the levels of the taxonomy of Bloom, to give some impression of what it means to be certified on a certain level in terms of capacities, possible jobs and job roles.

Organizations that have an important role in setting standards for IT Training are APMG, Axelos, CompTIA, EXIN, IASSC, IPMA, IREB, ISTQB, ISACA, The Open Group and PMBOK. We are not able to explain all standards but will only refer to them and in some cases give more details. There are publications that give an overview what they do and mean. We will focus at the independent standards and will only provide some general information about the vendor related programs. By “independent” we mean the owners of these standards do not provide training themselves. Instead, they publish the Body of Knowledge and the rules and regulations for Training Providers. Because of needed limitation we will not include the general quality standards, like EFQM, the Balanced Scorecard and ISO 9001 and all other ISO standards. Only if they are related to IT we have included them.

The next column will deal with vendor related products.

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Matthew Burrows (06/01/2016)

I thought readers might find the 2.5 minute animated video on SFIA useful, and the website address for the SFIA Foundation so they can download SFIA free of charge. The latest version, SFIA6 was released in June 2015 and provides up-to-date coverage for cyber security, digital, and loads of other areas which have moved on since the previous version.

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