German business software giant SAP has addressed the growing need for qualified entry-level workers by introducing a more affordable and accessible certification program for university students in the United States, Canada and Latin America.
“[SAP] sees certification as the baseline of quality,” said Joe Westhuizen, vice president of business development and strategy at SAP. “[The company has] drastically revamped the testing centers, support materials and practice areas available to people.”
The certification program educates students in the area of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and has been expanded from one to three levels: associate, professional and master. ERP software supports several key business processes.
In addition to expanding the scope of the certification program, SAP has introduced a slew of new courses — including service-oriented architecture, business intelligence and supply chain management — that provide students with skills in line with industry demands and allow for better employment opportunities.
The program itself also has become more hands on.
“[SAP has] put a lot of work into blending [the] curriculum, so instead of expecting people to come in and [sit] in the classroom for weeks on end, we’ve repurposed a lot of the curriculum into e-learning-type content,” Westhuizen said.
The changes were preceded by an international survey of emerging and developed nations released by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The survey indicated an urgent global need for skilled workers as a result of several factors, including the international expansion of companies, the aging workforce and the growing pressure on educational institutions to produce qualified graduates who will meet the changing needs of the workplace.
“There’s a challenge for SAP to ensure that it has the right quantity but also the right quality of skills in the marketplace,” Westhuizen said. “Five to 10 years ago, there was one set of skills required in the marketplace, but now that’s evolving and there are different skills. So we’ve got to make sure we [provide] the right balance.”
The SAP initiative was supported by its University Alliances program, an international network of approximately 900 colleges and universities that provide juniors and seniors in educational institutions across the globe with hands-on training in SAP products.
Since an increasing number of companies are looking to hire candidates with SAP skills, SAP is in talks to link specific universities and customers to ensure a longer-term supply of resources, Westhuizen said.
– Deanna Hartley, firstname.lastname@example.org