GP to offer an accelerated MCSE certification program

There’s a lot of competition out there and a piece of paper proving your qualifications can sometimes help.

That’s why John Mattocks, an IT services manager at the Smart and Biggar law firm in Ottawa, is going to GP Boot Camp to get his Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certificate.

The Boot Camp, which is based out of Ottawa, is an accelerated MCSE certification program aimed at those who already have some experience in the IT field. The program is broken down into two sections – a four to six week self-study component in which the student is guided by a mentor and a two week intensive full-time in-class portion.

For the first half, students are sent a book, which is designed to give them the knowledge base they need to prepare for the second half. If they have any questions, they turn to a mentor for help. When students think they’re ready to go forward, the mentor assesses them. When students get the okay from their mentor, they progress to the two week in-class session. In class portion, students take lessons and undergo examinations.

It was the short time frame that attracted Mattocks, whose firm will be paying for his Boot Camp certification.

“It’s a money saver for the firm in that, really, the only time I need off is about a two-week period. And for me, it means that I don’t have to be off and worry about what’s going on here (at the firm) when I’m not here,” Mattocks said.

Although Mattocks, whose firm just finished doing a country-wide roll out of NT server, does expect to increase his knowledge at the camp, he said that, because of his experience in the IT field, the certificate is more of a rubber stamp than anything else.

But the certification is important to most employers, his included, and Mattocks is not the only IT professional seeking an MCSE to prove his qualifications.

According to Christophe Bouchaud, the executive director of corporate marketing and sales at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont., a lot of Sheridan grads go on to get their MCSE certificate after completing Sheridan’s more general IT program. That’s why the school is planning to offer the Boot Camp program to its students.

This way, Sheridan students can get their Microsoft certification while taking non-vendor specific courses. The students would graduate both with an IT diploma and an MCSE certificate, which would make them “irresistible” in the marketplace, Bouchaud said.

“It would be a repetition for them to go through the full-fledged MCSE program, which is designed for entry-level people with no technical background,” Bouchaud said. He hopes to offer the program by January.

He is confident that even though the program is only six to eight weeks long, it will still get the job done.

“The methodology, the mentoring system, the support that goes with it and then the two-week, intensive in-class coaching plus taking the exams is dead on. From a pedagogical point of view, we thought it was a very well-thought out, very balanced product that would be [appropriate]for a very specific-target audience,” Bouchaud said.

Approximately 100 students have already successfully gone through the program in the U.K., said Larry Gauthier, the managing director of the Ottawa-based GP in Canada The program, which costs $7,995, will soon be offered in Ottawa and eventually across the country.

Most of the people who take the course will probably already have a job in the IT field, Gauthier said. “They’ll position themselves within [their] organization a lot better” with the certificate, Gauthier said.

“The whole concept of certification – people believe in that. There’s various studies that have proven that people that are certified are more productive, so there’s benefits to the organizations to have their people certified. The benefits to the individual is that it creates more career opportunities for them,” Gauthier said.