Radio Frequency Identification Skills Needed

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A recently released report titled “North American RFID Markets for Automotive and Aerospace & Industrial Manufacturing” from the research firm Frost & Sullivan projects that over the next six years, the market in manufacturing and management for radio frequency identification (RFID) will have an annual growth rate of nearly 20 percent.


According to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), the IT industry is not ready to meet with that need. More than 75 percent of technology companies responding to a CompTIA survey said there is not a sufficient pool of talent in RFID technology from which to hire and that the lack of skilled labor will hamper the adoption of RFID technology.


To counteract this deficit in skill, CompTIA created an RFID certification program in 2006, and the association reports that response to the certification has been good, as evidenced by the growing number of training programs tied to CompTIA RFID+.


David Sommer, CompTIA vice president of e-business and software solutions, said the need for skilled labor in RFID is being met in different ways in various quarters of the industry.


“Over the past year, we’ve seen training in RFID technology added to the technology curriculum at a growing number of academic institutions and commercial training providers,” Sommer said. “The commercial training providers typically are offering courses lasting between one and five days, while universities and colleges are offering even longer courses in RFID.”


Sommer cited an example of this at Oakton Community College in suburban Chicago. The school’s flagship course began with 10 students in fall of 2006, thanks to a state grant and vendor support.


The course centers on helping students develop both technical and business skills, and one of the requirements is that students identify a company with RFID implementation needs and take that company through a real-life deployment. As they do this, they address issues such as interference, security, the best location for equipment and dealing with other radio frequency noise.


Sommer said he feels the time is now for an aggressive push toward investing in RFID skill sets, as the technology is becoming fully mature.


“Over the last several months, we’ve seen a number of encouraging signs that indicate RFID is moving beyond an over-hyped technology to one that is delivering real benefits and value to organizations,” he said, adding that these changes include consolidation among product vendors and solution providers, greater availability of collaborative solutions and “off-the-shelf” commercial RFID packages and improvement in RFID planning and implementation skills.

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