IT professionals looking to survive a potential company layoff, or find employment if already jobless, are turning to certifications to improve their marketability in the eyes of employers.
The job market is different from what it once was and IT professionals must change their approach to job hunting, said Jason Eckert, faculty head for technology with Toronto-based TriOS College. “Certification is a must nowadays. Someone who got a job 10 years ago could find a job without certification,” he said.
Eckert said that in the last six months, there has seen a surge in interest among the IT community to get refreshed on IT skills at TriOS College, which offers IT courses in the form of co-op and intensive programs or single courses. Half of returning individuals have already launched an IT career, and half of those are seasoned professionals, said Eckert.
Among the top IT skills that are most in demand among employers, said Eckert, are those regarding messaging and security like Microsoft Exchange and Blackberry. With requirements like the length of time that e-mails must be archived, becoming familiar with laws like message compliance is increasingly important, said Eckert. And the fact that new messaging platforms are increasingly focused on security has resulted in new security terminology that "if you touched an e-mail server 10 years ago, you would not know at all, it’s a huge new world,” he said.
There is also plenty of demand for database
design, management and creation skills. According to Eckert, successful businesses today hinge on being able to mine large stores of data to reap information like customer preferences. “Databases aren’t just for accounting anymore. They’re for every type of application that is being deployed today.”
He’s also observing ample interest among employers for open source technology skills like Linux, given the huge adoption of open source in the past two to three years among businesses.
Whether returning IT professionals are choosing to upgrade their skills in open source, messaging or database, Eckert said the main driver is to get more competitive. “It’s a shrewder market out there … IT is growing at a very healthy rate but that doesn’t mean companies will hire just anybody. They want specific skills.”
IT professionals are looking for “quick papers” to prove they possess the skills they have, said James Brouwer, distance education support specialist for IT training with Toronto-based George Brown College. “The concerns are if they have to change jobs or go to another company, they’ve got no paperwork,” he said. “There are a lot of people who are terrified they’re going to get laid off.”