Achieving 100% Success Rate in IT Training

by Jim Staats | Feb 20, 2012

Not far from the lapping ocean waves along the shores of Peru, a technical revolution is taking place.

Cyttek, a relatively new training presence in the capital city of Lima, is having phenomenal success with an IT program built on the core competencies of CompTIA certifications that could forever alter the South American country’s economic outlook.

Students are trained to earn the fundamental certifications of CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Server+ and CompTIA Project+ before moving to higher levels. The program has a 100 percent success rate since initial classes began in 2010.

“My previous knowledge in computers was rather low, but since I have started to study CompTIA (certifications), I have acquired more knowledge and confidence in resolving problems,” said Brian Ponte, one of the program’s students, via translation.

“I even help my friends fix their computer issues.”

Ponte, 16, who credits his CompTIA A+ certification with “finding work immediately” as a technical support representative, said “I know that in information technology, the better or more prepared a person is, the better the opportunities (are) anywhere you go.”

He estimated about 80 percent of the information he gained through his CompTIA preparation is put to use in his daily duties.

“CompTIA A+ prepares us for the basic things in order to be able to solve the various diverse issues that show up in IT,” said the Lima resident.

Another of Cyttek’s students, 24-year-old Alejandro Bedoya, has been working on other internationally recognized certifications including Cisco and Microsoft. He credits CompTIA for diving into the details.

“They go from objective to objective directed to a central theme or idea,” said Bedoya, a printer technician with HP. “This is different from others where they don’t go deep enough or are too brief on certain objectives.”

A self-acknowledged computer “junkie” since an early age, Bedoya also considers himself a bit of a sponge when it comes to industry certifications that both build knowledge and the confidence of his employers.

“Every day, the value of having multiple certifications increases around the world,” Bedoya said.

Building the Program Based on Business Demand
“All the knowledge put together, we’ve added because of demand from different companies in Lima,” said Kirk Sanchez Rios, executive director of Cyttek’s Escuela Superior Americana. “Students coming out can do basically anything out there.”

He added, “Going from cutting grass to an IT job is rewarding.”

Sanchez, who spent decades working with various technical colleges in the U.S., established the center in Lima’s Miraflores district in 2009 with the goal of providing a complete program of IT fundamentals. The first step was finding the right vehicle for the journey.

Sanchez said he immediately sought out CompTIA for its vendor-neutral offerings.

“You can see the difference,” he said. “A well-rounded knowledge versus others that are more precise. Students can do things quicker. You can see the big difference with the students. That’s how we came up with the idea of incorporating more and more of CompTIA offerings.”

He’s not exaggerating.

Cyttek’s Lima site, which became a CompTIA Authorized Partner in 2011, recently implemented one of its just-released certifications, CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP), to become part of an upcoming network security program.

“We’re always looking for what’s new,” he said. “You do a (training) program because of where you are going to work. Our focus is how are you going to work and how are we going to get you there.”

Students who complete their CompTIA certifications can then move on to other credentials including Microsoft, Cisco and others, but the basics are imperative for a general populace with little to no technical knowledge.

Charting Student Success
Peter Leight, Cyttek’s U.S.-based director of education, said 40 students to date have successfully completed the program in its first year and a half with all CompTIA certifications.

“We’ve had success in the states using CompTIA and offering other classes, but what we’ve found here is starting with a baseline of A+ (and) Network+ and giving students solid theoretical grounding of vendor neutral foundation has been the key.”

“Working off vendor neutral fundamentals, everything else we did was more successful,” Leight said, who credits the work ethic of the students in Lima for that success.

“It’s a lot of hard work,” he said. “They take it very seriously. People are walking into different technology. They can jump into it easier. It’s been more specific than we even expected.

“I don’t think we’d have the same success if we offered the same program in America.”

Sanchez said with a teaching staff made up of experienced professionals, the program is one of active teaching, not passive.

“We put it in practice,” he said. “They learn it much quicker.”

Students, whose age ranges from 15 to 65, are selected for the program through an admission process of vocational interviews to determine if the program is the right fit. While a few have some IT experience, many begin with only the most basic background understanding of technology.

“The focus of the school is to evaluate students, teach them and put them to work,” Leight said. “These students want a better job and better opportunities. That’s not typical in Lima. It’s fairly unique in (that) area.”

While statistical goals for the program are still being formed, Leight has been pleased to see the education program help build a tighter community network and closer ties with the business community. Program leaders, he said, are constantly seeking to better understand what businesses in the area expect from graduates.

Sanchez, who actively works with employers in the area to help place his students, has business partners including IBM-Peru as well as some of the largest technical support firms, phone companies and banks. Some of his students are helping to install call centers throughout South America, consulting for various firms and working for finance firms in the U.S.

He often uses the global value of CompTIA certifications as his lead pitch to help “sell” his students.

Both Leight and Sanchez note finances are a big restriction for many students being able to move forward. Several companies are stepping forward to help partner with the program to alleviate such concerns.

Sanchez predicts the demand for IT credentials among the South American population will only grow with time.

He noted a recent interview with a local IT director who didn’t have much knowledge of CompTIA.

“I told him about it and he wanted to learn more,” Sanchez said. “People in Peru, they go and learn on the job and continue going and going, but in the end the fundamental skills are not there.”

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