Program to Offer RFID Training, Certification

The vender-neutral program, being designed by CompTIA and AIM Global, will aim to meet the needs of product manufacturers anticipating a skills shortage in RFID wireless technology.

Next Monday, initial plans for a comprehensive RFID certification program will be unveiled by CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) and AIM Global (Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility). Actual RFID skills training and certification testing are expected to start in mid-2005.

The vendor-neutral program will be geared to meeting an anticipated shortage of professionals trained in RFID, David Sommer, vice president of electronic commerce at CompTIA, said in an interview with

"Last summer, we were approached by a number of manufacturers who are working to comply with [customers] RFID mandates. Theyre recognizing that, after some of the technology and cost issues are resolved, therell be an RFID skills shortage," Sommer said.

"There are no widely accepted RFID certification programs at this time," he said. CompTIA also certifies computer professionals across a wide range of other areas, including personal computer service, networking, Linux and security.

Some manufacturers have been working with RFID internally—in what are known as "closed-loop systems"—for the past 10 or 12 years, AIM Global president Dan Mullen said, also during the interview.

"What youre seeing now is companies looking at RFID for supply chain initiatives," Mullen said. The U.S. Department of Defense and large retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target and Albertsons all have issued mandates to their product suppliers to start using RFID in 2005.

Beyond its main initial use in tracking large pallet and container shipments, the wireless, sensor-based technology is eyed for eventual use with smaller package shipments and individual product items.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here for more on Wal-Marts RFID mandate.

On Dec. 8 and 9, CompTIA will host a meeting with AIM Global, manufacturers, systems integrators and computer trainers to start discussing what kinds of content to include in future RFID skills training and certification tests.

Also in coming months, decisions will be reached about how, when and where to hold the training and testing sessions.

Right now, AIM Global is considering running some of the sessions itself, while contracting some of the training and testing to outside companies, Mullen said. AIM Global might present some of the sessions in conjunction with its other educational events.

But it will take at least six months to create the training programs and tests, according to Mullen. By then, he said, some of the current RFID technology and standardization issues ought to have been settled, anyway.

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