Within the corridors of one of Japan's top technical consulting firms, a new skills training program is producing whiplash-fast results for those involved.
At the heart of this initiative is a core belief in the value of CompTIA A+
In the past year, the client services division of MicroMates, which provides IT equipment support for Ricoh Technosystems, implemented the "skills map" program to boost staff knowledge through a four-pronged focus on practical skills, communication skills, hardware skills and software skills.
Successful immersion in the latter two has benefitted greatly from mandatory certifications, including CompTIA A+, the international, vendor-neutral standard that validates foundation-level competence in areas such as installation, preventative maintenance, networking, security and troubleshooting.
Immediate Impact on Employee Productivity
"Certifications have made me become more presentable both to my coworkers and clients," said Reika Takiguchi, a call center operator in the firm's Tokyo office. "They are the proof that my knowledge is legitimately demonstrated."
The 29-year-old, one of several dozen employees in MicroMates call center group to successfully complete the training program, described herself as a living, breathing embodiment of the immediate impact delivered by such industry certifications.
Takiguchi recalled a helpdesk role for a previous firm in which customer queries about software brought about self-doubt and hesitation.
"Currently, it's the opposite," Takiguchi said. "Through using the software that I provide support for, I notice more things, such as what feature or function will improve workflow or how a certain change could streamline operations."
Positive Feedback All Around
She isn't alone in her strong positive feelings toward the upskill effort.
With 16 training sessions completed over the past year, results show remarkable improvement, based on internal surveys and feedback.
Seventy percent of training participants credited CompTIAA+ with a positive impact on their daily work activities.
Newly-hired staff commented on more confident customer interactions based on a well-rounded understanding of software and hardware components. Experienced technicians were surprised to find their previous training insufficient in the areas of newer operating systems, network systems, server and hardware equipment.
Emphasis on Practical Problem Solving
Takiguchi, who counts CompTIA Server+
, MCAS and the System Administrator Exam and Information Technology Engineer Exam among her certifications, was by no means a neophyte when she entered training, yet she came away impressed.
"As inquiries regarding complex machines such as copiers, printers, and facsimile are on the rise, the training I received helps me explain issues with accuracy," she said, noting the skills program "taught me practical ideas on their usage and troubleshooting."
Takiguchi understands the value of all-encompassing call-handling skills. She said the true value of a CompTIA certification is its universal reputation.
"Because their domains do not depend only on specific vendors or newer trends, you have to approach (their certifications) with systematic learning," she said. "You are also required to have knowledge about legacy systems."
Takiguchi sees the program as nothing less than a win-win for her employer.
"As a company, having CompTIA-certified employees demonstrates to our business partners and clients that we have the IT workforce to assure quality of our offerings," she said, noting many colleagues are becoming more active in certifications and other training. "We have established not only high assessments, but also credibility from our partners and clients."
Glowing early returns of programs such as MicroMates reinforce the ideal of a bright future for technicians truly invested in advancing their IT careers.
Said Takiguchi, "I think certification becomes more important and its need will grow because those individuals who want to change or grow in their career definitely need proof to display what they are capable of."