September 19, 2011 2:56 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Only small changes in the offing for Q4-11 IT hiring
, Robert Half seeks silver lining in lackluster IT hiring plans
I found a recent story at the Certification Magazine Website entitled “CIOs Talk IT Hiring in Q4” that appears to provide a glimmer of good news on the IT hiring front, for what would be a decidedly welcome change. This report is based on the most recent Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report for Q4 2011.
Here are some highlights, straight from the Robert Half press release on this latest report:
- The net 6 percent increase in anticipated IT hiring activity is up two points from a net 4 percent increase in hiring activity projected last quarter.
- Ninety-two percent of CIOs are confident in their companies’ growth prospects in the next three months, up five-points from last quarter.
- Eighty-eight percent of technology executives rated the confidence of their firms investing in IT projects in the fourth quarter a 3 or higher on a 5-point scale, with 5 being the most optimistic.
- IT security and networking professionals are in greatest demand right now, according to survey respondents.
- Two-thirds (66 percent) of CIOs said it’s challenging to find skilled professionals today, up eighteen points from the previous quarter.
Hmmm: very interesting! Here’s what I take away from this information: First, IT hiring plans are ever so slightly on the upswing. Second, even though growth projections are decidedly optimistic, hiring plans are not very aggressive at all. Third, a lack of bullishness also shows in the middle-of-the road rating for confidence in upcoming IT investment for the current quarter. Fourth, security and networking are as important as ever (something that’s unlikely to change for the foreseeable future). Fifth, as the old saw goes “Good help is hard to find.” Maybe this is more a case of “no bad news is good news” though it’s not unwarranted to say “no big change means no big news,” either.
While both CertMag and Robert Half seem ebullient about this report, I’m not so sure it tells us to expect any significant changes in the IT hiring and activity climate through the end of 2011 (and probably, well into 2012 as well). I find myself repeating my old mantra “Hunker down. Stay put. Things have gotta get better sometime…” But when?
September 16, 2011 2:07 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
great offer for free MS exam preparation from MS and New Horizons
, MS and New Horizons team up for pre-exam mentoring sessions
In a rare and unusual display of industry wide cert candidate support, Microsoft and New Horizons have teamed up to offer free mentoring sessions to students who have recently taken a certification training class but not yet taken the corresponding exam. The “rare and unusual” part of this offer comes from its extension to any and all cert candidates. In other words, you needn’t have taken a class from Microsoft nor New Horizons to qualify for this offer (see this Born to Learn blog post from 9/6/2011 for more details “Certification Mentoring Partnership Launches“).
- Born to Learn covers MS Learning Topics
Here’s a key snippet from that blog post that explains a bit more about what’s available and how it works:
What it is:
Delivered by Microsoft Certified Trainers
Sessions are delivered as webcasts
Reviews the top technical issues that correspond to the questions that are most often missed on the certification exams
What it is not:
Current Mentoring Topics:
Windows 7 Developers
See the New Horizons Web page entitled “Confidence Before You Sit for the Exam” for more information, details, and program sign-up (registration required). Obviously, New Horizons thinks you’re going to like this offer so much you’ll come see them for a future course some time. My advice: take advantage of this while it lasts, if you’re taking any of the related MS exams. It’s almost too good to be true!
September 14, 2011 12:20 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
CompTIA should put its money where its mouth is on jobs plan
, why not offer training and exam discounts to help the unemployed get back to work
Check out this 9/12/2011 press release from CompTIA “CompTIA Supports Innovative Approaches to Putting People Back to Work, Streamlining Regulations for Small Business.” Therein, CompTIA President and CEO Todd Thibodeaux manages to endorse elements of President Obama’s jobs plan without coming right out and endorsing the plan in its entirety or granting much, if any, kudos to our Commander in Chief for his recent speech and related jobs plan efforts.
Specifically, CompTIA endorses continuation of the halving of the Social Security payroll tax and write-offs for investments in computing equipment. As you’d expect, Mr. Thibodeaux also praises “… innovative ways to put people back to work, and advance training and education…” And likewise, it doesn’t take a rocket scientists to determine that CompTIA has something substantial to offer by way of certification, job preparation, and high-tech learning.
Mr. Thibodeaux also cites a need to fill 450,000 positions in high-tech right now, and an untold number of technology jobs in the future, then goes on to mention CompTIA’s discounts and special offers for returning US military veterans seeking to re-enter the civilian work force.
What I’d like to see is a plan for retraining the unemployed where the US Government helps propel them into high-tech training to help them re-enter the civilian work force, too. And while we’re at it, I’d like to see CompTIA offer the government a substantial (say 50%) discount on the costs of the exams those retrainees will need to get certified, and beat on their training partners to do likewise for training classes to help prepare them for those exams. And what the heck, why not give CompTIA and the training companies tax credits for those charitable contributions to getting unemployed Americans back to work.
There’s a jobs plan that I can relate to, and have to believe might actually do some good. Is anybody listening out there? What do you think?
September 9, 2011 9:50 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
, Obama's jobs plan lacks ambition and chutzpah
Last night, President Obama addressed the US Congress, and proposed a new jobs-focused economic stimulus that would broaden the current Social Security tax cut for workers, and extend similar payroll tax cuts to small businesses. It would cut Social Security taxes by more than half for individuals (from 6.65 to 3.1 percent) and by about half for small businesses with payrolls of $5M or less (which means 98% of American businesses).
Another aspect to the President’s plan: a tax break of $4,000 for companies that hire individuals who have been unemployed for more than 6 months (according to the latest Employment Situation Summary from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, this means 43 percent of the unemployed population, which currently tops 15 million people). Other spending would extend existing unemployment benefits, boost support for public works, and provide aid to state and local governments to head off teacher layoffs. Total costs for all these suggested outlays: $447 B.
Economists are reacting positively to this plan with predictions for resulting new job creation ranging from one to two million new jobs as a result of the tax break. But predictably, Republicans are averse to any plans that involve additional spending without also providing offsetting sources of revenue. Given the current political climate, I give this plan a snowball’s chance in hell of being enacted as legislation. And even if the predictions prove true, reducing unemployment by 8-16% (from 9.1 to 8.4 or 7.7 percent) doesn’t strike me as a bold enough stroke.
If the President wants to dream big — and I think he should — I’d like to see more ambitious public works projects, more money (and work) for the chronic unemployed and underemployed minority populations in major metro areas, and some kind of “Newer Deal” for American citizens. If the Republicans are going to shoot it all down anyway, why not go for something really ambitious and meaningful instead of what economist Menzie Chin (University of Wisconsin) calls something that “merely makes up for the expiration of the president’s earlier $862 billion economic stimulus plan” (Chicago Sun Times, 9/8/2011).
September 5, 2011 8:40 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
CEH candidates who wish to take the exam but not an official course must pay a $100 application fee
, CEH exam fees double
My eyebrows went up a bit as I read this headline in Anne Martinez’ latest Certification Watch newsletter (Volume 14#11, 9/1/2011, 2nd headline from the top): “Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Exam to Double in Price, Independent Prep Costs Extra.” Here are some details:
- As of September 30, 2011, the cost of the CEH exam goes up from $250 to $500
- Those who don’t purchase a CEH class from an authorized training partner must also pay a non-refundable $100 “application fee” to challenge the exam directly, and skip the class.
Martinez goes on to observe that the $100 fee is already in effect right now, but that the new CEHv7 exam won’t actually go live until October 1. If you’re already prepping for this exam, you can save quite a bit by accelerating your schedule to beat the deadline, but you’ll want to act fast: with such a powerful impetus, seats at Prometric or VUE testing centers for this exam in advance of that date are bound to fill up fast.
As for me, I’m not sure I like this maneuver on the EC-Council’s part. Though they do state that they “regret the inconvenience” of these changes on their CEH Web pages, they offer only the information that the course materials have been reworked and that they have invested “thousands of hours researching the latest trends and uncovering the cover techniques used by the underground community” (CEH Brochure, p. 2) to indirectly explain the price increase. When prices go up a little inflation and overhead are easy to invoke to explain such jumps; when costs double and new fees are levied, some form of direct acknowledgement and explanation seems to be in order. I don’t see anything like that from the EC-Council. I can only hope somebody in the organization will see this blog, and step forward to provide some more information. Without it, the move seems like nothing more than an outright profit grab, as does the $100 application fee.
Snippet from Application form cover page
What does this change tell you about the CEH? Its sponsoring organization (known as the EC-Council) obviously thinks a great deal of this exam. It also obviously wants to steer candidates into official training classes (most with price tags of $2,500 or higher) as evidenced by its $100 add-on application fee for those who want to challenge the exam directly. I’d urge such folks to meet and probably exceed the organization’s requirement for two or more years of information security related experience and to read over the Exam Eligibility Application Form carefully to make sure they can provide all of the requested information, and count on whomever the proffer as an employer reference to back up their assertions that they meet the organization’s background and experience requirements.
September 2, 2011 8:57 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
no change in employment from July to August 2011
, September 11 Employment Situation Summary sparks market decline
Today’s the first Friday of the month, so the US Bureau of Labor Statistics posts last month’s employment numbers. As I was driving to an appointment this morning, I heard an NPR reporter describe the Dow Jones Industrial Index as “plunging” in the wake of this report. And indeed, today the DJIA closed down 253.31 points to 11,240.26, down 2.2 percent. Sigh.
September 11 Employment Situation Summary Headline
So, what happened, you may ask? A whole lotta nothin’ as it turns out. Jobs created for the month were a big fat goose egg (zero, that is) with gains in healthcare and mining offset by losses in the information sector thanks to the huge group of Verizon workers who went out on a two-week strike in August. But lack of evidence of growth translates into a stagnant economy, one that’s right on the brink of shrinking, and thus falling back into a recession once again. Yes, that’s right: the dread “double-dip recession” now looks increasingly likely. Hence the expression of discontent and dissastisfaction in the stock markets round the world.
Against this backdrop, President Obama’s speech about jobs and the economy to the congress next Thursday, September 8, takes on added significance. Given the declining state of our infrastructure, especially our highways and bridges, I say let’s go ahead and spend some more money to improve those failing assets and put more people back to work.
And for us IT professionals, my mantra cannot (and apparently will not) change: “Hunker down. Be calm. Stay put. Wait for things to get better.” At least, after three years of more of the same, I can’t claim this isn’t a familair refrain. Sigh again.
August 31, 2011 1:01 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Cisco recommends Network+ for CCENT and CCNA prep
, Cisco touts A+ and Network+ certs
Take a look at this graphic, lifted straight from the CompTIA page in the “Expand Your Credentials” area on the Cisco Website:
Cisco recommends Network+ as a feeder cert for CCENT, CCNA
Yes, that’s right, Cisco is plugging the A+ and Network+ sequence as a natural precursor to the CCENT and CCNA certifications. In light of their recent announcement of the CCT program (see my 8/24/2011 blog on this subject for more information) I have to wonder if this changes anything.
But for now, here’s what Cisco says about the Network+ credential:
Network+ provides a solid foundation for networking professionals to pursue vendor-specific certifications such as the Cisco CCNA or CCENT. In fact:
* Most Network+ certified professionals move on to a Cisco exam within 6 months
* Network+ certified professionals have a higher CCNA exam pass rate
Shoot! There’s even a CompTIA IT Certification Roadmap on this page, too. What does it all mean? For one thing, it means that Cisco thinks CompTIA is doing its job to prep IT workers for entry-level skills and knowledge and building the kind of informed certification candidates it likes to see. For another thing, it means that both organizations find synergy between their respective programs and offerings. I’d like to see more of this kind of thing going on in the IT certification space, and I can’t help but think that we will.
August 29, 2011 3:22 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Cisco gives ITIL the nod; Cisco Learning recommends ITIL certification
Vendor-sponsored certification programs often get the reputation of presenting the world from a cloistered (or at least one-sided) perspective. But the more you dig into certain programs, the more you learn that they do recognize that the world they serve is bigger than their organization, and that there’s lots of good stuff people can benefit from learning outside their domains. Case in point: Cisco Learning’s great page on “IT Service Management (ITSM) and ITIL.”
(Click to Enlarge)
It’s a treat to see this familiar ITIL diagram on the Cisco site, along with a very good explanation of the various ITIL certifications available to IT professionals, and what they cover. They even include pointers to key ITIL organizations, and a pointer to itSM Solutions for ITIL training online. There’s also a link to a 2009-vintage presentation on Cisco and ITIL that talks about its formal adoption, regular use, and future within Cisco itself. Good stuff!
August 26, 2011 2:45 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
special discounts on upgrade from VCP 4 to VCP 5 available thru 2/29/2012
, VCP 5 exam goes live 8/29/2011
Here it is, straight from the VMware Certified Professional (VCP) home page:
VCP 5 Exam Registration is Now OPEN
The new exam goes live on Monday, August 29, and the old VCP 4 exam will be phased out by the end of 2011. VCP 4 holders who take and pass the VCP 5 exam on or before February 29, 2012 can skip taking the update course to qualify for a cert upgrade to VCP 5 status (VMware vSphere: What’s New [V5.0]) and save $1,500! For more information on the new VCP 5 credential, requirements, and so forth see my PearsonITCertification.com blog from August 3, 2001 entitled “New VCP5 Exam Spurs Special Offer for VCP4 Certified VMware Pros.”