A Funny Java Flavoured Look at the World

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Is certification becoming less popular as developer retention becomes more important?

I read this article today with the title

Another Nail in the Coffin of IT Certification

A nice dramatic title if ever I saw one. Still it is an interesting point and I love this quote

IT certifications are worth less than ever, and the value of non-certified technology skills has surged, according to the third-quarter edition of the "Hot Technical Skills and Certifications Pay Index" from Foote Partners, a New Canaan, Conn., IT workforce research firm, on Nov. 1.

"Certified skills pay has not just flat lined, it's in the negative. This is big news if you're certified and you're thinking about getting recertified," said Foote.

not only are they worth less but it almost seems that if you get one you pay will drop with the negative effect of getting certified. Wow indeed, it reminds me of the quote form Benjamin Disrali
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.
Earlier this year I passed my SCJP 5 sun exam so I better not show this article to my boss. Of course I'm sure there are other studies and facts which show why getting certified is good for you, I blogged about one earlier this year, although the figures are for 2005.

Personally one of the main points from the article that states certified training isn't as valuable as other training courses to me seems a fairly obvious one. Training to pass an exam is going to focus on knowing the facts to pass an exam and some of the course will probably be practicing exam conditions. Where as I would imagine other courses will focus on use of the software/skill in a business environment.

I imagined most people who just study for certification by themselves rather than go on training courses because becoming certified in a subject isn't usually about something you don't know how to use, you just need to learn it in minute detail in order to pass an exam in it.

I still think becoming certified in things you aren't familiar with can be very useful because you learn the subject in great detail, although in some cases this might seem in overlearning perhaps, like do you really need to detailed knowledge of Java API's and if the compiler would compile everything, this stuff is done by the compiler and the API's are there for you too look at.

What interests me in this article in one part is has focuses "Growing Talent in-house" this I find an interesting topic and it often seems that employers of software developers don't always consider this. I have seen many times developers leaving for better paid jobs, jobs with more training, jobs with better career opportunities. I have often wondered the cost of replacing that developer, not only with another developer (who rarely seems to come in on less money) but also the particular skills that developer had to do his job.

It seems often that employers don't seem that worried about retaining employees and rarely tackle problems until people actually say they are leaving. In fact many employees seem reluctant to invest in training courses for employees. The above factors can often result in people moving which makes training people in house very difficult.

I have read a few articles now which have hinted at a skills shortage, so I wonder if this attitude will change in the future and maybe employees will work harder to retain the software developers they have. I think the words I am actually looking for is dreaming not thinking.

The one thing I would say about certification is that it is much more highly regarded by management than it is developers and this may because it doesn't give you as many skills as training courses in a different area and I would say it doesn't give you as many skills relevant to your daily work.

If training courses in certification are down then maybe power of choice of training is moving towards the employee in a bid to retain the developer. Are Developers having more say in what training courses they are going on. Still I can't imagine any person complaining about going on a certification training course or any other training course.

As manager will be the one's signing off the training and managers like certificates to put on the wall then I don't think certification is going to go away any time soon.

If you like this blog or and fancy something a bit less technical with some laughing thrown in then check out my other blog Amusing IT Stories. Which is a blog about funny and amusing stories from the IT environment and the office. It is a mix of news, office humour, IT stories, links, cartoons and anything that I find funny


  • Right on! Certainly my employer has a reactive approach to retaining staff - waiting until someone is actually leaving before taking any action.

    Training is via google! Domain knowledge takes longer and you could argue is more expensive to aquire.

    Certification is good for a developers cv so when they jump ship they have more chance of getting an interview.

    My 2 pennorth

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Nov 16, 12:51:00 am 2006  

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