What's better for increased business performance: employee certification or employee skills? Recently the founder of a leadership company asked me that question, and I wanted to expand on this topic because it's an important one that business executives are always debating. You may find yourself in a position to move a very skilled employee up within the organization, but are there certificates they need for you to be comfortable with that decision. Or reverse that, if someone comes to your company with acronyms and alphabet soup after their name and a portfolio of certificates looking for hire, does that mean they have the skills to do what you need them to do?
What do you think is the importance of professional certificates now and in the future?
This is a great question. And I think people will be answering this for lifetimes. I see the education model changing, for the better in my mind. With student debts skyrocketing, end users are going to want to change their future. Either it has to happen at the government level or the business level. Being in the industry, we can provide stats and data all day long about the value of certifications.
However, until society hires certified individuals without college degrees at rapid rates, it will be a tough sell. That is something my company is working on. The employee development solution our business provides is very tough to make happen because the government has a lot of red tape to go through for funding and hiring. It also depends on which role or industry you are in.
As an example, I see things changing more rapidly for IT professionals, but not so much the same for accountants. IT programs and technology change with the wind, whereas basic accounting structures not as frequently.
DO skills constantly need to be updateD or the certificates?
I believe the skills are what are needed to be updated. A recent study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that hiring managers report skills matter more than degrees. Generations ago people could do the same job for an entire lifetime. Today, maybe that’s a handful of different jobs. The next workforce generation could be doing a new job every 3-5 years. That there is where I question the traditional education model, as well as skills versus certificates.
I think here is where skills will become more and more required, but the certificate depends on the funding source (the individual, the business, or the government). I believe if the business is funding it, they will care less about the certification and more about the skills to get the job done.
In many cases, there may be a compliance aspect that requires certifications, which is pretty common. However, many certifications these days are only valid for 3 years or so. At a certain point in someone’s career, they care less about them. So at the entry level, I have to look at certifications as validation of skill.