ARE CERTIFICATION COURSES A VALUE-ADD

Published Date
01 - Apr - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Apr - 2006
 
ARE CERTIFICATION COURSES A VALUE-ADD
Some say it is important; some say it might make a difference; some attach no weightage to such courses. Here's what five HR officials have to say

S Padmanabhan, Executive vice president Global head of human resource development Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)

The IT industry is highly knowledge- and competency-driven and therefore, technology requirements change every three years. Given this backdrop, there is a constant demand from customers for new skills. This means that companies like TCS recognise the importance of new certifications and continuously invest to develop the competencies of its associates.

A strong academic record forms an important eligibility criterion in our selection process, especially for fresh entrants. While recruiting experienced professionals, certain skill-specific certifications can help give a person an edge over competitors for the job.

Normally, not many freshers obtain high-end certifications typically covered by our certification policy. Those who do have some certifications have an edge over other applicants. Certifications reflect the initiative of a candidate and his urge to keep learning. This edge is important, given the kind of competition that exists to get a job with a preferred employer like TCS.

Eli Ramon 
HR director, South Asia Intel

Certifications are relevant for certain types of jobs because they bridge the gap between conventional education and specific skill requirements. If you looked at specialised professions like medical, legal, insurance etc., certifications have been pretty much the norm. Specific to the IT industry, we see some commonly preferred certifications like PMP for Project Managers, Cisco and Microsoft certifications. Networking, database, Unix/Linux, information security, and technologies like ERP, data warehousing, storage, and supply-chain are the common areas.

A certification does tell me that this candidate is interested enough and serious enough about the profession to put in extra effort. But that's just a foot in the door. The hiring decision is eventually based on demonstrated knowledge and the quality of experience they have gained.

When we assess recent college graduates, we focus on basics. For us, the key factors are aptitude, verbal ability, reasoning, value system, and technical knowledge related to what they learnt in their stream of education. Certifications may help them improve scores on those, but cannot make all the difference.

A degree can be valuable, certification can be valuable, but in the final analysis, you should really know your stuff in-depth. If you are absolutely clear what area you want to work on, certification will be valuable.

Bodapatti Balaji 
Director  ADP India Pvt Ltd

Certification plays a very significant role in the overall assessment of a candidate. Depending on the post a candidate is being considered for-say for a system administrator post-an MCSE or CCNE certification carries considerable weight.

Certification recognises and validates skills, and helps the industry standardise evaluation criteria: an MCSE from India or the US identifies similar competencies.

In a country such as India with half a million MCAs and BEs, the industry is in no position to absorb all of them. Only 10 to 15 per cent are directly employable. Certification can be a differentiating factor. It helps a generalist become a specialist.

A B.E. or B.Tech. graduate can decide the line of work he wants to pursue and then choose a certification course accordingly. The ADP portal offers training for almost every certification currently available, including some in areas such as payroll processing and project management.

As far as recruitment of freshers to ADP is concerned, our entry test evaluates basic quantitative, logical and programming capability. According to the demand and supply situation, we may not be rigid about a candidate's aggregate percentage, provided the candidate demonstrates the required competence. In such a case, certification may give him an added advantage.

Certification does not play a primary role in the recruitment process, especially in the case of freshers. Infotech recruits only graduates who have secured first class, that is, above 65 per cent aggregate. Such candidates are then put through an entrance exam, a group discussion, and two levels of interviews. Apart from this, their final year project is of importance. Even if it's a dummy project, what the candidate has learnt from it is important. Following all these considerations are soft skills such as communication and team dynamics.

Ashok Reddy 
Executive vice president  HR and corporate affairs Infotech Enterprises Ltd

It's only after these criteria that certification comes into consideration. Other parameters being the same, a certified candidate will probably stand a better chance. However, in the case of freshers, our in-house training is good enough to impart the necessary job skills.

Some clients do mention a preference for a particular number of certified candidates in a project, but there are often experienced members in the team with the required profile.

Of the 300 freshers we recruited in 2006, very few possess any certification.

Nitya Nivali
Senior manager – HR  Progress Software

A graduation in engineering provides the necessary background for a fresher. Gaps in specific skills are bridged by on-the-job and internal training. In the case of experienced candidates, yes, a certification could be an added advantage-for example, an MCSE or CCNE for a systems position, or an OCP for a database position. But we certainly don't consider these a substitute for relevant experience.

For a fresher, certification can perhaps guarantee an interview, but not a job. His concepts as proved by his academics and performance in the interview are more relevant. Let's say we're recruiting a Java resource; once basic proficiency is established, the candidate's attitude and willingness to learn is perhaps more important than a Java certification. If he doesn't have one, our internal training process will more than make up for it.

Certification is probably the last thing one would consider in the process of recruiting a fresher, and it's definitely not a make-good for average or poor academics. However, after three to four years of experience, an employee can consider certifications such as PMP (Project Management Professional) to move into a Project Manager post.



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