2002: The Bad
I wish I could say that everything in the IT certification was peaches and cream in 2002. But the truth is that there were several "bad" indicators. In my judgment, the following are a few of the not-so-good indicators that came from last year. These could potentially have a negative impact on certified professionals and those seeking certification.
One of the negative indicators in 2002 that caught me by surprise was how those in the market ignored Prosoft's CIW certifications and tracks. In 2000 and 2001, the CIW looked like the bus that everyone should jump on. In 2002, the bus seemed to run out of gas. There were few if any jobs requiring the CIW. The problem was that CIW was never truly embraced by the IT job market. The authorized curriculum was too broad in scope and not in-depth enough. CIW candidates did not come out of the certification program with the skills that would guarantee that certified people could perform the tasks required of Webmasters. The CIW program did a great job of giving certified professionals a broad-liberal Webmaster education, but it did not exhaustively explore marketable skills.
A second bad indicator in 2002 was the reduction of instructor-led training. Everyone I spoke to in training last year was either getting ready to be laid off from a training center, or a training center manager was getting ready to close down its operation. Classes that had 812 students in 2000 and 2001 were lucky to have three or four students in 2002. Part of that reduction is due to corporate clients freezing their training and overall IT budgets. Many companies were encouraging self-study, whereas others were contracting with trainers to provide a cost-effective training environment in-house for employees, without having to pay a training center a profit and overhead.
A third bad indicator, and one of the worst factors in 2002, was the layoffs that occurred in IT. They have been bad for the economy, bad for IT, bad for the people considering a career change to IT, and bad for the overall psyche for those of us in IT. One would think that the number of layoffs should have generated a great deal of retraining and new jobs, but it did not. Instead, the layoffs left the IT community in a completely confused state of mind. People who were certified and experienced had nightmares getting a job and had growing fears of losing a valued job. If there was a truly bad feature that came out of 2002, it was the confusion that now exists in IT (and specifically IT certification), caused by the uncertainty that companies have generated by their concern with the bottom-line. Professionals and people in general seemingly are disposable. This has left everyone in IT wondering what the magic bullet is. IT needs to reaffirm its direction, and corporations need to show that they value certified professionals. Will this happen? Only time and a sense of humanity will tell.