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DAILY INSIGHT: The importance of tech training and certification

By Steven M. Baule, CIO Advisor

One of my friends regularly posts to Facebook everything from his eating habits to his step-by-step travel plans. However, not too long ago he posted that he can’t stand people involved in hiring decisions who are eager to exchange professional training and certification for a bit of enthusiasm. Actually, I believe he wished a particularly warm place in the afterlife was reserved for them.

It hit a little close to home at first. Who doesn’t look for enthusiasm in new hires? I am sometimes amazed by the lack of enthusiasm I find in traditional candidates. However, I am unwilling to overlook a total lack of education, certification and real experience. Sometimes, I do see some of that among my peers in making IT hires. Often, it is too expensive to hire truly prepared employees, so we hire IT staff who “are good with computers” and can learn on the job. Of course, this tends not to work out so well from time to time.

Systemically, we create a longer term problem; those without proper professional IT training are at a disadvantage because they don’t have the necessary avenues from ongoing professional development that are natural to those who went through professional training or certification programs. One really nice thing about technology certification programs is that many of them require some type of continuing education in order to remain current. Particularly with the fluid nature of technology, currency is extremely important.

As we settle in for the start of another ugly budget year, make sure that the value of professionally trained IT staff is demonstrated to your administration and the Board. Too often we seem to allow for sub-standard preparation among the IT staff. As organizations that grant diplomas and certificates and most of us hold a degree or two, we should be more aware and understanding of the need for properly trained IT staff and we need to ensure the professional development resources are in place to make sure they stay up-to-date with their IT knowledge.

Steven M. Baule is superintendent of North Boone CUSD 200 in Poplar Grove, IL. He has written several books on aspects of library and technology management and planning.