HP: The Benefits of Continuous Learning
This month, the Hewlett-Packard Certified Professional Program in the Americas region will launch a new Continuous Learning initiative. Similar to skill refreshment programs in other professional fields such as nursing and accounting, the HP Continuous Learning Initiative encourages HP Certified Professionals to update their knowledge and skills and to stay current in the certification program.
Continuous Learning is a fairly significant change to the HP Certified Professional Program. It supplants the old Continuing Certification Requirement (CCR) program and adds flexibility in how certified professionals keep up to date on HP products and services.
“We want to make it easier for our certified professionals to continually refresh their knowledge so they can be at the top of their game when selling, servicing or supporting HP products and solutions,” said Rich Gossman, manager of the Americas HP Certified Professional Program. “Continuous learning gives people a wide range of options for updating their skills and meeting their program requirements.”
A Look at the Changes: Old Versus New
Prior to the Continuous Learning program, HP required certified professionals to stay current in the certification program through the completion of occasional CCRs and through forced migration from one credential to another as new credentials were introduced.
Under the old methodology, there were multiple scenarios that could trigger a mandatory CCR:
- Skills Updates: If HP determined that emerging technologies required significantly new core skills, it could require certified professionals to update their certifications.
- Product Updates: If HP determined that the release of a new product or solution necessitated training for certified professionals, HP could require exams.
The frequency and depth of these updates depended on the rate of new technology introduction into the marketplace and on new HP product and solution announcements. In other words, the certified professional had no control over the update process.
Failure to comply with the continuing certification requirements within the prescribed period of time resulted in a severe penalty: HP Certified Professionals would have their certifications revoked.
While this obviously impacted people who lost their certification status with HP, it caused havoc if they worked for an HP sales or service partner. Such partners are often required to employ HP Certified Professionals with specific credentials in order to attain authorization to sell or service HP products. If the HP Certified Professionals’ credentials were revoked, it could result in their companies’ loss of authorization.
In addition, at any given time, it was difficult for HP Certified Professionals or their employers to determine what might be required in the future to remain current in the program. This made it hard to budget and plan for training and testing. In extreme cases, a credential could change significantly or numerous times over the course of a year due to changes in the related product line. This subsequently meant extra work on the part of the certified professional just to stay current.
The new continuous learning initiative gives more choice to HP Certified Professionals as to how and when they refresh their skills. In addition, with the elimination of CCRs, it takes away the “loss of certification” penalty. “Frankly, our old process sometimes put too many demands back on an HP Certified Professional,” Gossman said. “Our new initiative allows us to provide individuals and their employers with predictability and flexibility in how they choose to maintain their status. Also, where possible, we’re minimizing their investments and reducing travel needed to keep their status current.”
Annual Point Requirements
The Continuous Learning Initiative introduces the concept of annual point requirements, whereby HP Certified Professionals must earn a set number of points each calendar year. These points are awarded for completing HP-sanctioned learning activities of the individual’s choice. The points are centered on various technology families and are relevant to the individual’s credentials.
Qualifying learning activities vary by geographic region but might include:
- Participating in seminars, webinars or Web-based training.
- Attending various sales or technical events, such as ENSA@Work or HP Technology Forum.
- Taking official HP classes.
- Passing HP certification exams.
- Reading HP technology white papers.
Activities are assigned point values based on the length of time involved and the content value of the activity.
Learning points are earned according to technology families. A technology family is a group of technologies, products or solutions that are similar in nature or related in some manner. The HP technology families include:
- Business-critical systems.
- Desktops, workstations and notebooks.
- Enterprise solutions.
- Imaging and printing.
- Industry-standard servers/ProLiant.
- NonStop Systems.
- ProCurve Networking.
- Software (OpenView, OpenCall).
- Storage solutions.
HP Certified Professionals who hold one or more credentials within a technology family must earn eight points in a calendar year by completing learning activities relevant to that technology family. If they hold credentials within two or more technology families, they are required to earn 16 points within the year.
This is best illustrated with a few examples. Let’s say that Russell holds the Accredited Systems Engineer (ASE) credential for HP StorageWorks (2005) and that this is his only credential. He needs eight points each calendar year to remain current in the HP Certified Professional Program. He can attain those points by combining various activities such as reading a technical white paper about the StorageWorks technology, attending the ENSA@Work storage event and viewing a webinar about HP SAN solutions. To qualify, an activity must be listed with an associated point value in a technology family at the time it is completed.
Like Russell, Nicole holds the ASE – HP StorageWorks (2005) credential, but she also has the Master ASE – HP ProLiant High Availability and Clustering Solutions credential. Nicole’s two credentials are in different technology families, so she needs to earn 16 points within the year. Nicole attends ENSA@Work, HP Technology Forum and a sales event in her city. She also reads two qualifying white papers and passes the exam toward the updated credential ASE – HP StorageWorks (2006).
The Benefits of Continuous Learning
If HP Certified Professionals fail to attain their required points within the year, they are considered “not current” in the program. The credential is not revoked as it would have been under the old CCR process. Instead, the Americas HP Certified Professional program office will send information on how to regain “current” status through learning activities to ensure the continuity of program benefits as well as the enhancement of HP skills and knowledge.
“We’ll be taking a ‘carrot approach’ toward currency in our program,” Gossman said. “To encourage people to attain their annual point requirements on a timely basis, we’ll hold incentive promotions, including drawings for cool HP products like digital cameras and plasma screen TVs. Anyone who is ‘not current’ in our program can make himself (or herself) eligible for these extra incentives by fulfilling the annual points requirements. After all, what we are trying to do here is help people stay vital and relevant in their jobs.”
The CertPro Portal
To help HP Certified Professionals track their own progress and plan their credentia