Press Pass: New testing tools and other certification news

Welcome to the latest installment of  Press Pass , where CertMag reports new and recent certification news by blowing through as many industry press releases, blogs, dispatches, messages in a bottle, etc., as we can fit in one post. We’ve got the highlights and you can click straight to the horse’s mouth for more information.

Bringing the mountain to certification candidates: In some parts of the world,  just about anywhere you live you’re probably at least within a couple of hours’ drive of an authorized certification testing center. Certification candidates in developing nations, on the other hand, often find themselves in dramatically different circumstances: Sometimes reaching the nearest testing center involves international travel. All of that could be about to change with the launch, on July 24, of a new online platform for certification test takers designed and hosted by global skills assessment provider Mettl. In a nutshell, Mettl wants to change the game by offering a secure, scalable solution to certification providers who are willing to test candidates’ IT mettle (See what we did there?) without the reassurance of four walls and an in-person proctor. Mettl says it has solved many of the age-old objections to online testing with cheating countermeasures such as live webcam proctoring and controlled access to test materials. Mettl’s testing platform also incorporates banal but essential chores like test registration and payment processing, and has the capability of providing test results in real time.

Old cert, new tricks: Certification providers probably sometimes feel like lumberjacks in those log spinning competitions. No matter how recently everything was perfectly balanced, it’s always time to reassess, revise and keep moving forward. The latest company racing to stay ahead of the game is networking giant Cisco, which announced earlier this week that it has completed a major overhaul of its mid-level Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) credential. Along with the changes to CCNP, Cisco is also launching six specialist certifications to help IT pros be better positioned for changing job roles. The Cisco Industrial Networking Specialist cert addresses the skills required for networking jobs in heavy industry, while the Cisco Enterprise IT Business Specialist cert will prepare IT pros to tackle business planning and consulting roles. Four additional new certs fall under the Cisco’s network programmability initiative.

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CompTIA supports Internet tax reform.CompTIA supports proposed internet tax reform: Among the many tempests brewing in the teakettle that is the United States Congress, with everything hitting a nice boil in the final legislative hours before summer break, is the pending passage in the senate of H.R. 3086. Also known as the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, H.R. 3086 would prevent states from levying taxes on internet access, as well as shut down double-dipping on taxation of internet commerce. Leading IT industry organization CompTIA has now thrown its weight behind Senate ratification of the measure, passed in the  House of Representatives on July 15, announcing a unified front with the technology councils of 18 different states. Among the strange bedfellows joining in support of H.R. 3086, state groups from New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah, Georgia and Idaho are all onboard.

Words of wisdom: Should you get a computer science degree, or look for a more specialized major? What’s the best way to present yourself in an interview? Are certifications helpful on a resume? The British Computer Society wants to help ensure that IT pros everywhere are getting helpful, productive career advice. To that end, the BCS has launched a new program to offer tips about employment, IT training and anything else that comes to mind, straight from the mouths of bona fide working professionals. Visitors to the new Map Your Career website can get an earful about what it’s like in the real world, and how to prepare for those conditions. Some of the advice is pretty straightforward, along the lines of Hannah White’s recommendation to, “Always take responsibility for your own personal development.” On the other hand, what about this tip from Helen Fisher: “Never wear the same outfit two days in a row.” Yes, male IT pros, that’s a rule. Go and do thou likewise.

Direct eye contact, firm handshake: While we’re on the subject of brushing up the Ps and Qs of the younger generation, it’s apparently become generally known that Millennials are lacking in “soft skills.” That’s the personal touch, kids. Things like interacting well with co-workers, or showing up for work on time.  According to a recent blog post at Training Industry, the young workers of today don’t place a much value as their prospective employers on qualities like integrity, professionalism and having a positive attitude. It is important to have the “hard” skills to do the job you get hired for. On the other hand, it would seem that job performance knowledge is not the only thing that employers are looking for.

Checking the IT forecast: Cloud technology has become so ubiquitous that even Hollywood is making jokes about it, as evidenced by the recent film Sex Tape, in which a frisky couple accidentally uploads an intimate home video to “the cloud.” Apparently, however, it’s the people at Amazon who are really laughing — all the way to the bank. The retail giant’s pioneering cloud hosting arm, Amazon Web Services, saw its business grow by 90 percent in the past year. Amazon beat almost everyone else in the industry to the punch on developing and monetizing cloud technology, which a new book says is directly attributable to a mid-level employee’s tech brainstorm. As recounted in an article on Business Insider, Benjamin Black had been with Amazon for a little more than a year when he wrote a memo that included, as an afterthought, a recommendation about “selling virtual servers as a service.” Fast forward to $3.8 billion in revenue just last year. Whoa. Cool story, bro.

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Fida Reeder

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

FIDA REEDER is a journalist and writer with experience in both print and web publications. E-mail her at fidareeder (at) gmail (dot) com.

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