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ITIL certification builds IT workers' skills in economic downturn

While the economic recession has hit the IT job market, IT Infrastructure Library certifications can shore up IT workers' business-oriented skill sets and improve operating efficiency at companies with fewer resources. ITIL training helps workers develop career-enhancing skills, while the framework's IT service management focus helps organizations retain and attract skilled workers and improve IT operating efficiency.

The news is full of failing companies and lost jobs, and the IT job market has not been spared the current economic recession. It is a worrisome time for everyone. We can view the recession's effects on the IT economy from two different perspectives: (1) that of employees, who fear losing jobs and worry about having the right skills, and (2) that of employers, which need to improve operating effectiveness and efficiency. While separate, these views are not mutually exclusive. Continuing education and the pursuit of IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) certifications can benefit both groups in terms of building IT skills and improving IT operational efficiency.

Building IT skill sets with ITIL certification
Firms hire workers based on their skill sets. While many organizations understand the value of developing IT workers' skills, others discard employees when skills no longer align with a company's needs. In their responses to employee surveys, it's no wonder that respondents list stagnation as a top fear.

For those interested in developing business-oriented IT skills, ITIL certifications teach new approaches and offer the value of having an IT certification. Educational groups, such as ITSM Academy of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., take great care to combine theory with practical application to help students not only pass certification exams but also internalize the theory and how to apply it.

In this economy, IT workers must carefully develop and maintain their skills and marketable credentials. If an employer doesn't compensate adequately, employees must take their futures into their own hands. Long gone are the days of the "company person" who spends his career with one firm. Now IT professionals frequently change jobs for myriad reasons.

With companies downsizing every day and millions of jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007, it's important evaluate certifications based on which skills are in demand in the geographical area of interest, what your weaknesses are and which strengths can be augmented, and the overall benefit a certification provides over time.

TheITIL Foundation certification indicates that an IT professional has a basic understanding of IT processes and terminology. The certification is a prerequisite for more advanced classes. For those who want to specialize and develop domain expertise, the advanced Capability, Lifecycle and Service Manager/ITIL Expert certifications should be pursued.

It's important not to fall into the trap of doing nothing if an employer refuses to fund your career development. You should enhance your skills and plan for your future. Don't leave your growth opportunities and career path solely in the hands of others.

ITIL training boosts IT efficiency
For organizations trying to do more with fewer resources, it's essential for employees to have process skills as well as technical skills. ITIL's IT service management (ITSM) philosophy is about quality improvement and complements lean, Six Sigma and other company quality efforts.

In addition to the overarching ITSM methodology, ITIL provides processes that are considered best practices by the thousands of practitioners who have developed and contributed to ITIL since 1989. Groups struggling with how to improve IT effectiveness and efficiency can use ITIL as a roadmap for process improvement over time. Training organizations provide a variety of programs tailored for employers who have a large number of staff to develop. A training program should factor in objectives, timelines, budgets and more. Before you bring a trainer on-site, ask your provider to help you build the plan. Ask about successes in other organizations of your size. A training document built on a RACI matrix or ARCI methodology not only helps maximize the training budget but also your results. A company that sends all IT workers to ITIL Foundation training will get limited benefits, while one that plans its approach based on defined roles and responsibilities will see far better results. With an ITIL program, the right training for the right people at the right time can make a huge difference.

Another benefit of training is staff retention and the attraction of new talent. People interested in learning new skills will want an employer with a reputation for helping its staff members just that.

ITIL: Bringing security in economic downturn
Without a doubt, we live in troubled times. Without the IT skills needed to compete, workers fear being laid off or that they will struggle to find new jobs. Companies are in desperate need of improving the effectiveness and efficiency of their IT groups to reduce costs while also pursuing their mission of value creation and protection. ITIL certifications present a means to help both groups. With careful planning, the benefits can be maximized for individuals and employers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: George Spafford is a principal consultant at Pepperweed Consulting and an experienced practitioner in business and IT operations. He is a prolific author and speaker and has consulted and conducted training on regulatory compliance, IT governance and process improvement.

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