IT Workers Views on Skills Testing

Reader response to Lisa Vaas article "IT Workers Skills Tested."

Dear eWEEK:

Got one question: Did IT get paid that well to deserve constant stress in improving themselves?

I am not dumb, and I am reading tech books after hours. But the amount of IT information is enormous. The basic concept may not be difficult to comprehend. But detailed things like program syntax, command-line syntax, etc., unless you are using it daily, theres no way you remember it. Therefore, theres no way a Tech Lead can know the syntax better than the daily programmer.

Does any other job require after-hour studying?

Dr. Duncan Hsu
Database manager
Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education
Lincoln, Neb.

Dear eWEEK:

Just how much money does a company WASTE on such ridiculous tests? Companies are so picky initially in choosing their IT people that it takes a long time just to find out where one stands after an interview. Many companies, I feel, are wasting money doing crap such as this instead of spending it for employee continued education.

A concerned IT professional!

Don Bilbrey

Dear eWEEK:

Your article was very informative and a pleasure to read. However, its funny to hear that companies are starting to require mandatory testing, considering most IT professionals already do this. Whether its taking a Microsoft exam, a Cisco exam or one of the various [CompTIA] "+" certifications.

Indeed, it seems that the IT community is filled with various certifications. Again, this is all well and good. However, once a new version of a particular software hits the market, youre looking at having to re-certify. That may not sound so bad, but it would appear that these new versions are popping up a lot faster than they used to.

It certainly takes a lot of time, money and effort on the part of an IT professional who is willing to maintain his or her hard-earned designation.

What I have discovered over the years is that most employers would rather hire individuals with a certification or two. These same employers are reluctant to pay for any additional training. They would rather come up with a method of assessing their existing staff, discover what expertise they are lacking, release individuals whose skills are no longer needed, and hire someone with the skills they need (often for less money).

I often wonder why these same employers are not willing to send their people to regular training. Then I remember ... money. It costs money to take a computer class. I read a few months ago about how the IT training industry was making a killing with all this certification training.

Another thing to remember is that when one or more employees are out taking these courses, you are left short on manpower. Of course they could take the evening classes ... on their own time.

Moving away from the money issue, consider another question: Are other professions being tested as well? Is there some sort or management assessment? I am sure that we all have met one or two "managers" and wondered how they could keep their jobs! What about the administrative assistant? You get the idea. Could this sort of practice be considered unfair? I dont know, but you can be sure that someone will use this when they take their employers to court after being laid off.

Certifications: Yes. Mandatory assessment: Better implement that across the board. Employers: Pay up or shut up.

Richard Thewissen
IT manager

Dear eWEEK:

Testing employees in the computer field is typical of management that has no clue on hiring people. This is the same management that believes outsourcing is a wave of the future. They outsource because they dont know how to hire or manage technical people. If someone says they know Java, C#, C++, etc., then within one day of coding and analysis a quality manager would know what his people know. I can tell by talking to someone whether they are a coder or a posner (an imposter who knows all the buzz words).

Test questions dont work. The process of ascertaining knowledge is what needs to be measured. If you need to hire a programmer, then give them a programming task to complete. If you need a project manager, have him/her create a project plan. The potential employee needs to demonstrate his or her abilities. Testing current employees is an oxymoron. If you need to test them, why are they working for you? They are tested every day with the results they create.

It is a sad time in the computer industry where people lie, cheat and steal on their résumés. If a person sits in on an implementation of some project, its on their résumé as if they know how to implement. I would say the 80/20 rule still applies. Twenty percent of the people carry the load of the other 80 percent. It is the 80 percent who come up with all the ideas to cover up their inabilities.

Robert Miller
Chief information officer
The American Companies
American Shipping Company Inc.
American International Cargo Services Inc.