At 7:30 Central last evening, I jumped back into the fray at the second Microsoft Certified Career Conference (MCCC) for my second presentation of the day with Jeff Johnson, Microsoft Learning’s Academic Area Lead for North America. We had a 1-hour time slot and used almost 50 minutes in giving the presentation, and kept the Q&A going right up to when our time slot expired. Then I jumped over to my Expert Chat area and, much to my amazement, kept going with still more Q&A for another 40 minutes. By the time yesterday finally rolled to an end for me the only appropriate word to describe my mental and physical state was “Trashed!”
Nevertheless, I’ve had a good night’s sleep now and am not only ready to face the rigors of a new working day, but delighted to share some high points with you from yesterday’s presentation:
- As I’ve said many times in the past, even here on this blog, it’s never a matter of “degrees vs. certs;” it’s always a matter of both degrees and certs!
- It’s highly ironic that in a time of much-higher-than-normal unemployment, lots of jobs today (and even more tomorrow) must go begging because candidates don’t have the right skills and training to fill them. Certs and degrees can remedy this situation, but people must go out and earn them.
- Half of today’s jobs require at least some technology skills, and by the 2020s that number will climb to over three-quarters of all positions available.
- Certification is just the ticket to augment basic learning and fundamentals taught when earning a degree with current, real-world, job-related skills and knowledge. That’s why they’re better together.
- MS certs from MCTA to MCTS and MCITP are finding increasing coverage in middle and high schools in the US, and in secondary education around the world. Same goes for Microsoft Office Specialist crednetials and the MS Digital Literacy credentials as well.
- College programs, especially community colleges, are creating strong linkages between IT certifications and their 2 and 4 year degree programs (and sometimes even Master’s degrees). For Microsoft credentials, this currently includes MOS, MCTS, and MCITP. Many community colleges embed MCTS in their various IT-related degrees (and some include MCITP); many four-year colleges include MCTS and MCITP in their degree plans as well.
- Microsoft has worked with the American Council on Education to enable students who earn MS certifications to request college credit for such work. See the MS page Earn College Credit with a Microsoft Certification for more details.
- The MS IT Academy program not only offers professors access to Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) materials, it also offers students, faculty and staff at participating institutions up to 55% off the normal cost of MCP exams (that means $56.25 for an exam instead of $125). Second shots are also available for most exams, which greatly increases the odds of passing, even for a budget deal!
This is great stuff and well worth remembering, both for those considering a return to academia for themselves, or for those with children or relatives with children about to head off to high school or college. Combining IT certification with a diploma of some kind is definitely better than an either-or approach, especially in today’s challenging job market.