The Impact of Terrorism on IT Certification

Originally published in Certification Magazine, 11/2001 

As I began to catch my breath after the recent World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist attacks, I contemplated how all of this would impact the IT certification community. With that in mind, I contacted a few of my colleagues to get their opinions. Based on their responses and my own thoughts, I have put together scenarios of the changes that are likely to occur in the coming months and in the distant future.

IT certifications are likely to see change in three central areas: increase in certifications—both in levels and types of certifications offered; increased usage of distance education; and increased exam security.

The slowed economy, exacerbated by the attacks, will have an impact on who becomes certified. It is very likely we will see an increase in entry-level certification offerings. Entry-level certifications help transitional workers make career changes by giving them baseline skills in a new venue. We may even see entry-level certifications being offered as part of layoff packages to expedite the retraining of workers into new job fields.

Expect to see more people motivated to attempt certification to improve the probability of job retention. Because certification acts as a concrete measure of an individual’s accomplishments, it helps to differentiate and distinguish the individual when decisions are being made about who to retain and who to let go. Individuals will want to show as much distinction as possible in order to maintain their livelihood.

Security will become more important than ever for the data center and its web of connected networks. Battling stronger strains of viruses, managing company-wide access issues and pre-empting unlawful admission strikes will be at the forefront for IT professionals.

You can also expect close scrutiny of disaster recovery plans. After the WTC crisis, how many companies will be rethinking their disaster recovery strategies? Network distribution, equipment requirements and data replication will all need to be reconsidered or, at the very least, reviewed. Companies will want to ensure their data is protected and recoverable in the event of an emergency. As such, expect to see certifications in security and disaster recovery grow in importance. The industry will need qualified individuals to recommend, plan and manage both of these strategies.

Expect to see more learning and collaboration at a distance. Travel is out; learning at the desktop is in. Just one week after the terrorist attacks, companies were indicating a move to increased usage of distance education mechanisms and digital collaboration tools. In a survey distributed by The MASIE center, 45 percent of the organizations that responded indicated an increase in the use of digital collaboration tools such as audio, video and Web-based conferencing.

As preparation for certification, more and more companies will begin to provide equivalent computer-based training solutions to traditional classroom-based instruction. Expect to see more individualized computer-delivered training, instructor-delivered Web-based training and remote-access labs for hands-on, practical experience.

Expect to see increases in certification exam security. For some time now, companies delivering certification have been concerned about item security, cheating tactics introduced through the Internet, exam delivery fraud and test-retake issues. Heightened security measures are clearly overdue. Expect to see standards of conduct introduced, security measures of proctored examinations tightened and more sophisticated exam data transfer mechanisms implemented.

While these changes may not be profound, they will have an impact on how you advance your IT career. Remember that you add to the world’s richness by providing information, communication and tools that support the way people work and live. As you contemplate how these global changes will impact your life, give your own planning strategies a thorough review, look to future trends in continuing your education and credentials and decide how you will show your leadership and innovation through IT certification.

Alison Foster

Test Security Specialist, Caveon Test Security