Byron Nicolaides, CEO and founder of global certification organisation PeopleCert

Training on the job – professional certifications will bridge the skills gap

Gone are the days when a qualification earned in an echoey gym hall at the age of nineteen or twenty would see you through your entire career.

We also hear fewer and fewer stories of “mailroom to boardroom” career progression, with people now choosing to move around between roles and sectors, collecting experience and promotions along the way.

The way we work has changed immeasurably over the years, so it stands to reason that the way we learn, train, and refresh our skills must also evolve to keep pace.

Importance of Standardisation

Technology is pervading more and more job roles across almost all sectors. It underpins the way we communicate and collaborate, the systems we rely on, and the security threats we must be aware of.

As employees work in step with increasingly powerful technology, it is no secret that the UK is facing a significant digital skills gap. Recent data from IDC’s Worldwide CIO Agenda 2019 Predictions shows that 30% of high-demand roles for emerging technologies will remain unfilled through 2022, while Accenture suggests that a failure to close the digital skills gap could cost the economy as much as £141.5 billion over the next ten years.

Professional certifications have a major role to play in ensuring that people and businesses have the skills they need for the modern working world – and can prove it.

Of course, there’s nothing new about worker training, but the demand for standardised skills between collaborative teams, and fast acquisition of niche technical skills, is greater than ever.

In a world full of technology, the idea of standardisation is an important point – this is not just to ensure high quality, but to have the critical reassurance that everyone working on a project has the same understanding of its technical elements, use cases, and security considerations. 

Ensuring Examiniation Security, Quality and Integrity

We’re also seeing more demand for a blend of skill sets for individual roles. For example, business analysts who need to combine data skills and business acumen for analytics driven organisations. Certifications are an ideal way to help employees acquire and prove new, relevant skills as requirements of their role change.

Once acquired, certificates allow employees to showcase their highly specialised skill sets to boost their career prospects and stand out in a competitive global marketplace. For employers, it’s invaluable peace of mind that they are hiring the right people for the right roles, and then nurturing talent in the right way.

From an employer perspective, certifications provide validation of an individual’s ability to understand new and complex technologies, and tackle more  insightful problem solving. As a result, there is evidence to underpin the significant impact of professional certifications on business efficiency, through assurance of high performance and best practice understanding and delivery across crucial tasks.

As the workforce gears up for the digital future, it’s not only the expert knowledge areas that must change, but the way in which training is delivered – to fit around the incumbent workforce. Going back to university to acquire new skills is not a viable or sustainable approach for most workers.

The opportunity for modular learning and availability of remote online proctoring technology mean that candidates can take their exams from wherever they choose, fitting these around their work and personal schedules, in a comfortable, secure, and stress-free environment.

It is the technology that underpins this which allows employers to have ultimate confidence in the security, quality and integrity of exams taken remotely.

A World of Constant, Agile, and Modular Learning

The pace of digital development, particularly around technologies such as data science, AI, machine learning, DevOps and cloud computing means we cannot wait for new generations to move into the workforce, bringing this new knowledge with them. Besides, what they have learned during their school or university education won’t give them all the skills they’ll require over their career. We’re moving into a world of constant, agile, and modular learning.

With such pressure to innovate, we can expect to see an uptick in workers seeking out qualifications that are not mandated by their employer, with an increased commitment to their own development to ensure they can thrive and adapt in the new world of work.

Employers must ensure that employees are well supported and set up to take advantage of technological progress. The pace of change is not going to slow, and neither can our appetite for learning.

Byron Nicolaides, CEO and founder of global certification organisation PeopleCert

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