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The growing micro certification trend is driven predominantly by industries such as IT and cybersecurity that have a workforce skills gap where jobs can’t be filled because of a lack of qualified applicants. Those who pursue micro certifications are usually non-traditional students already working but looking to advance in or switch careers. Micro certifications also benefit the unemployed who are seeking skill development and job opportunities.
Micro certification is a non-traditional learning path where students gain skill sets in a specific technical area and receive a credential within a matter of days — unlike a multi-year program that requires both lengthy time and financial commitments.
Linux Academy, an online Linux and cloud training platform and community, and Cybrary, a no cost, open source cybersecurity MOOC provider, released the results of a survey of more than 6,000 IT professionals on micro certification.
The survey uncovered several notable data points:
1. The two main reasons IT professionals took or plan to take a micro certification course are because the courses allow them to better keep up with changing technologies and learn at their own pace — 86 percent of respondents prefer learning and testing in smaller parts with course milestones in order to receive an IT skill credential.
2. Agility in certification and skills development is critical, considering 60 percent of IT professionals said it takes at least a couple of weeks or even months to get up to speed on their company’s technology stack.
3. When it comes to micro certifications in the workforce, 35 percent of respondents said that micro certifications have either helped them get a job or advance in a job; 70 percent think their company definitely would or may benefit from partnering with a micro certification provider; and 85 percent would or most likely would pursue micro certification if their employers facilitated the offering.
4. From an enterprise perspective, 40 percent indicated that their company either “yes” or “sometimes” reviews digital badges with micro certifications when assessing job candidates; 54 percent think traditional certifications are either somewhat important or are no longer important when searching for a job or hiring a new employee; and more than 94 percent somewhat to strongly believe that micro certifications give entry-level job candidates a hiring advantage.
5. Opinions on micro certification versus traditional IT training vary. 58 percent believe micro certifications convey the same level of technical proficiency as traditional training. 36 percent of companies value traditional training over micro certification. However, 35 percent of companies value traditional IT training, but said micro certifications are quickly gaining value.
6. In terms of costs, 82 percent of respondents indicated that micro certification is more affordable than traditional IT training. 58 percent of those surveyed paid $25 or more for their micro certification course. The majority of respondents believe their company spends an average of up to $25,000 annually on IT skills training for employees.
7. Overall experience with micro certification is high, with more than 90 percent of respondents saying they plan to take additional micro certification courses in the future. More than 90 percent would also recommend micro certifications to peers and colleagues.
Anthony James is Founder and CEO of Linux Academy.