12/18/2012 02:37 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Improving College Graduate Employability With Certification

Earlier this year Certiport joined with HP for the launch of the HP Institute, an academic partnership program designed to address the global IT skills shortage.

At the launch we heard the story of De Montfort University (DMU), a school in England facing an ongoing challenge, especially in a down economy, to give their students the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. DMU focuses on employability and aims to offer courses and degree programs that are relevant in the industry.

As a result, DMU has partnered with HP to develop a new Business Informatics degree for students, which includes the HP Accredited Technical Associate (ATA) certification. HP ATA certifications span four key areas: Connected Devices (PC, Printing); Networks; Servers and Storage; and Cloud Solutions. Certification is what truly sets this new program apart, providing up-to-date skills for students and giving them experience on real life systems. Certification bridges the gap from academia to industry.

Neil McBride, Reader in IT Management, Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility, DMU, led the validation of the HP ATA certification program at DMU. He found very few other universities embedding industrial certification into their business IT courses.

"The HP certification provides a different lens, a different view. The one thing I think is really good, is that when you get the ATA certification, you are not getting the same thing as in academia, you are getting a different way of teaching, a different, hands-on approach."

Students benefit from hands-on instruction in the program, with participants working on simulated hardware and software. "This isn't a traditional education, this is more of a practical learning environment, you actually sit and do what you are expected to know and what you will hopefully be doing in the future," said Andrew Owen, a student at DMU.

Industry professionals are also seeing the value of graduates holding an industry certification, such as Mike Wheeler, Solutions Director at Prolinx Ltd.

"When you are looking at a number of personnel who are sending in their CVs and looking for employment, obviously the first thing you look at is to see what qualifications they have to give you an indication that they may be capable of filling a role in your organization. So from that point of view certification is important."

I look forward to sharing more success stories as universities implement the program and see their graduates gaining tangible technology skills that can be applied immediately on the job.

Jim Holm is a leader in training and certification, working to bring performance-based certification testing into the education market worldwide. He is currently the Executive Vice President of Certiport, the world's leading provider of computer literacy skills training and credentialing programs.