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By Terry Erdle, Executive Vice President, Skills Certification, CompTIA

CompTIA LogoIn a recent column in The Wall Street Journal, Wharton School professor Dr. Peter Cappelli contended that reported shortages of skilled workers is a myth and an illusion. He believes one of the main reasons why jobs go unfilled is because employers are seeking perfect candidates ready to perform from day one without any training or ramp-up time. The better solution, Dr. Cappelli argues, is for employers to seek out workers who could fill open jobs with just a little more training.

The call for more training is spot-on, but this isn't just a matter for employers to address. It's a three-way dance involving the employers who invest in ongoing training to keep their employees' skills up to date; the individuals who commit to a regimen of lifelong learning; and the education, training and credentialing communities that deliver content and programs that are current and relevant to continually build and enhance the skills of the global workforce. Technology permeates every facet of every organisation, accelerating the transition to a knowledge-based, information-intense economy. At the heart of transition is education and training, not just from grades 0 through 12, or for those who move on to colleges and universities, but for all workers (and their employers) who seek careers that are personally, professionally and financially rewarding. On-going training and education is not a luxury, it's a necessity.

Technology is changing training options

Advancements in technology have enabled a broader range of training offerings, such as online self-study and webinars, to keep workers' skills up to date. This allows companies greater efficiencies as they can better tailor and support training methods based on what works best for them.

The Social Web has rapidly become the primary venue for social interaction. It's where we go to communicate, interact and learn. Whether through blogs or tweets, RSS feed or e-communities, wikis or podcasts, individuals are using these tools to link to one another based on common interests. The use of these tools is becoming more prevalent in the learning realm, too.

A 2009 CompTIA survey of 1500+ IT professionals found that 36% utilised some type of internet-based study application, while one in five participated in an online training session led by an instructor. Looking ahead, all signs point to an even greater leveraging of technology as students and instructors seek more flexibility, collaboration and interaction.

Students more engaged

Students and instructors are more engaged when training and learning incorporates Web 2.0 tools and social media. Web 2.0 tools allow content to be tailored and personalised, even down to the individual student level. Similarly, students can quickly and easily communicate with the instructor when course content is on the mark or not. That allows the instructor to assess and improve course material based on immediate feedback.

E-learning made possible by Web 2.0 tools goes beyond use in compliance testing or straightforward, one-dimensional training scenarios. One solution is to use tests based on the model of confidence-based learning, which measures a learner's knowledge quality by determining both the correctness of the individual's knowledge and confidence in applying this knowledge. This combination yields a profile of the individual's knowledge base, and identifies the difference between what the individual thinks they know and actually know.

At the organisation level, early adopters have found that blogs, social networking and customer forums offer the biggest bang for the buck among Web 2.0 tools in terms of measurable benefits. And coming soon to a desktop or handheld near you is Web 3.0 and 4.0, featuring rich media with full high definition video, sound and even emotive and touch features.

Lifelong learning is no longer limited by calendars or schedules. With Web 2.0 tools and beyond, it can take place at virtually any time and at any place. It's up to all of us to use it.

Terry ErdleAbout the Author

Terry Erdle is the executive vice president for skills certification, for CompTIA, the leading trade association for the world's information technology industry. He is responsible for the association's global certifications programs, including product development and delivery, partnership relationships and cooperation with the education and training communities.



For more information on CompTIA or any of their courses, visit their website at www.comptia.co.za or call 011-787-4841/3.

This article first appeared in TechSmart issue 99, December 2011. 

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