As the world starts to slowly recover from the COVID-19 crisis, the information technology industry is well-positioned to help businesses adapt to the “new normal.” 2020 saw faster adoption of technology by enterprises and consumers than ever before, with behaviors and processes shifting as the pandemic’s impact was felt across all industries.
Pearson VUE is releasing its latest “Value of IT Certification” report today. The report explores why candidates pursue IT certification and provides detailed insight into how certification benefits both individuals and employers.
The most recent findings are polled from 29,000 candidates who completed IT certification exams between November 2019 and October 2020 – a period of seismic change all around the world. Respondents were from 160 countries* and ranged from those who had pursued a certification for the very first time, to seasoned IT professionals who hold multiple IT credentials.
Global pandemic did not hamper the pursuit of certification
Pearson VUE, the global leader in computer-based certification and licensure testing, reveals that the validation of skills through certification continues to have significance for professionals wherever they are on their career pathway. The global pandemic widely disrupted employers’ budgets for staff training, and while certification programs were inevitably impacted, IT specialists remained committed to upgrading skills to enhance their employability and pay.
In 2020 IT certification grew 16% over the previous year. With global lockdowns in play, candidates turned to Pearson VUE’s online proctored solution, OnVUE, in order to continue their pursuit of certification. Online test delivery increased by more than 300%. Of the respondents who said that the impact of COVID-19 was a motivating factor in earning a new certification (30%), these individuals were more likely to pursue credentials in cloud computing over other IT certifications.
Growth in cloud certifications aligned with companies moving to remote working models
As COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of digital tools by organizations, the survey revealed that demand for skills in cloud computing increased significantly. With nearly all businesses shifting to some form of remote working, many enterprises needed to scale cloud-based platforms (and use developers with understanding of such technologies), so their workers could access the resources they needed to work effectively from home during the pandemic. According to the respondents, 28% of all the certifications they earned in 2020 were in cloud computing (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS) – representing a 164% increase (compared to Pearson VUE’s previous ‘‘Value of IT Certification’’ survey).
Certification leads to advancement
61% of the candidates who hoped to advance or be promoted as result of taking their IT certification exams received a promotion by the time they completed Pearson VUE’s survey.
As technologies continue to evolve and IT professionals strive to discover even more efficient solutions to drive businesses forward, the need to upskill is a top priority. 73% of respondents sought IT certification in order to obtain specific knowledge and competencies that would help them to upskill and keep pace with changing technology trends. When asked whether they had obtained their goal for certification, candidates most concerned with upskilling (82%) had the highest rate of success.
Certification improves self-esteem and is a lifelong activity
Candidates experienced many intrinsic benefits from certification such as increased confidence in their abilities (91%), greater determination to succeed (84%), feeling more respected by colleagues (76%), greater job satisfaction (76%), and greater autonomy at work (74%).
Certification is clearly valued more when transferable to real-life work situations, and the emotional benefits of gaining certifications are a driving force for professionals to continue to upskill throughout their careers. The average number of certifications held by the candidates surveyed under 24 years old is four, while those over 55 years old have 10 certifications. 86% of candidates who earned certifications in 2020 plan to pursue additional certifications over the next 12 months.
Employers who support IT credentialing see a more productive, efficient, and loyal workforce
Employers who support employee credentialing programs see significant improvements in their workforce, with employees being more productive, more efficient, more fulfilled, and more loyal. When employers covered the costs for certification, employees were less likely to be interested in seeking new opportunities outside of the company (74% compared to 87%), ultimately reducing employee turn-over.
“2020 was undoubtedly a challenging year but the global IT industry proved to be resilient. Our research shows the trust organizations have in certification to address specific business challenges, in addition to providing opportunities for personal growth,’’ explained Bob Whelan, President of Pearson Assessments. ‘’We are very encouraged by these insights from global IT professionals; people who despite difficult circumstances, embraced new certifications with vigor and are set to continue the rapid pace of digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic.’’