Microsoft Learning Launches a New Generation of Certifications

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Microsoft Learning announced a new three-tiered certification programme that provides valuable training and credentials for IT professionals and developers. The new certificationsMicrosoft Certified Technology Specialist, Microsoft Certified IT Professional or Professional Developer, and Microsoft Certified Architectmap closely to Microsofts technology roadmap and better reflect the changing IT environment and the needs of the individual and organization.

The first credentials offered will be for Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005, which will launch next month, helping customers and Microsoft partners to more readily and rapidly adopt these new technologies. Partners can also take advantage of a new level of integration between Microsoft Learning and the Microsoft Partner Programme, which will enable partners to apply Microsoft Certified Professional certifications toward multiple Microsoft Solution Competencies.

Todays systems require IT professionals and developers to possess more specialized skills, said Lutz Ziob, general manager for Microsoft Learning. These new certifications are key to helping customers and partners continuously build the skills they need to successfully adopt and deploy Microsoft technologies.

The new three-tiered programme provides a rigorous, flexible curriculum to enhance technical knowledge and skills, a certification framework that helps individuals differentiate themselves, and a proven benchmark for managers in making successful recruiting & staffing decisions. These more targeted credentials can be achieved with fewer exams, making it more cost-effective for individuals and organizations to validate specific sets of skills. And research has shown that organizations can realize substantial improvements in projects deployment, system downtime, spending on ad-hoc external IT support and overall productivity by employing certified staff.

By focusing on specific job roles this new certification programme is much more in line with the real-life job situation of IT professionals and developersand should help them create and build more accurate solutions, said Olivier Nguyen Van Tan, industry analyst and senior consultant with Pierre Audoin Consultants. Beyond expanding customers technology expertise, the utmost value lies in the new synergies with Microsofts product strategy, and will be a key factor of customer success in using future product releases.

The certification process starts with a free online assessment to determine a candidates area of strength and weakness, resulting in a customized learning plan that directs candidates to specific resources. Candidates can then choose the learning resources that best reflect their needs and learning style. In the next six months, there will be a slate of new materials to help prepare for certification, including assessments, books, and courses that are available on-demand, in printed form, and as instructor-led classroom curriculum from Microsoft and its learning partners. Developers with previous Microsoft credentials can easily upgrade to the new certifications with one exam.

One of the key things Microsoft has done is to break certification into two parts: understanding the technology and performing specific jobs, said Thom Griffin, vice president of Technical Services for QuickStart Intelligence, Microsoft Worldwide Learning Partner of the Year. Our enterprise customers will appreciate the job role emphasis because it will help them assess and better evaluate their staffs skills. And with fewer exams and reduced cost, the new programme provides our customers an easy way to validate the skills necessary to quickly adopt new technologies as they become available.

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