Young British Technical Apprentice Paying Dividends

by Jim Staats | Aug 19, 2011

A young Ashley Knight envisioned his future in technology.

The still-young man is well on his way to achieving that dream while putting his CompTIA certifications to work in trailblazing fashion for others to follow.

Knight, 19, of Reigate, a market town in Surrey, England, was plucked from his studies to become the first technology apprentice for an investment management firm after displaying a preternatural gift for all things IT-related. Among the requirments of his training program was completion of CompTIA A+ and Network+ exams, the results of which he credits for securing a full-time position and his firm expanding its burgeoning IT apprentice program.

Ashley Knight

“My CompTIA qualifications have given my employers a member of staff who has the knowledge and confidence to be able to solve the majority of problems that I am faced with,” said Knight. “They are very pleased that they have a member of staff who is as capable as myself after only being in the IT industry for around 10 months.”

Knight may downplay his professional IT pedigree, but if one counts early technical hobbies, he’s been “on-the-clock” for most of his life.

Given his first PC at an early age by a computer-literate father who helped show him how to build computers, Knight spent most of his free time using technology and studying up on the latest trends. By the age of 10, he was building Web pages using JavaScript, later earning a role as an IT technician at his high school.

“Throughout my life I’ve always been a resource to my friends and family who have been experiencing issues with their devices, and I really enjoyed being able to solve their problems while building my experience,” he said. “When the opportunity to pursue my hobby as a career came up, there was no chance I could turn it down.”

Knight was in the midst of his computing A Level preparations after having earned his GCSE in IT - two years early - when his tutor, impressed with the effort he put toward his studies, threw his young charge’s name into consideration for the new apprenticeship.

Within the training program run by UK-based QA Ltd., in partnership with Microsoft, Knight quickly earned both his A+ and Network+ accreditations after first becoming aware of the global industry certifications in September 2010.

He’s now one of the program’s biggest cheerleaders.

“I now have the knowledge to be able to troubleshoot the majority of errors that I come across in my day-to-day role,” said Knight, who estimated more than 80 percent of what he learned through his CompTIA A+ and Network+ certifications has been useful in his job. “On top of this, from having the CompTIA qualifications, I now have the confidence to be able to visit users on my own and solve an incident right from discovery through to completion.”

CompTIA’s vendor-neutral offerings had multiple benefits over other IT certifications available, according to Knight. The main benefit, he said, was a breadth of subject matter covering “everything from the basics upwards so you don’t fall short when fixing some of the more simple problems.”

Knight, ever the vigilant student who has done his fair share or research since first coming in contact with CompTIA a little over a year ago, said the global association offerings were “the most widely recognized in the industry, and an entry requirement for a lot of technology roles on the market that I have seen.”

He foresees industry certifications taking on a more significant role in such uncertain economic times.

“At a time when employers want proof that someone is competent in a specific field, they can be sure that certification ensures that, whereas experience does not,” said Knight, who expected such qualifications to be increasingly relied upon as “employers are looking to train young talent instead of paying a premium for experience.”

With his sights now set on CompTIA offerings including CompTIA Security+Server+ and Linux+ “in the not-so-distant future,” Knight said what he learned through certification “massively outdoes the knowledge I received taking computing examinations in college.

“By taking the CompTIA A+ and Network+ qualifications, I have learned how to fix most problems in a much shorter (timeframe) than if I had learned it through work experience or on-the-job training.

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