Certifications Strengthen Oman MOE's IT Workforce

by Janet Pinkerton | Jul 01, 2013

"I think it's the best available on the market to strengthen our technicians' knowledge and skills for their careers."

Ali Moosa Alhussaini
Director Of Technical Support & Operation, Directorate General of Information Technology, Oman Ministry of Education

The Oman Ministry of Education wanted to strengthen the hardware and software skills of 900 IT technicians and engineers working in ministry headquarters, 18 regional offices and 1,040 schools. These employees were responsible for installing and servicing a wide range of products, including 60,000 computers, plus multi-functioning machines, projectors, servers and IT networks.

In 2010, the Ministry developed a training program based on the CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Server+ certifications. By 2013, the training program has sharpened technician and engineers' IT skills, helped reduce the frequency of technical problems, and improved the quality of technical support within Oman's schools.

Prior to 2008, IT technicians and engineers participated in training provided by the Ministry. However, that training didn't combine hardware and software learning objectives into one training program like CompTIA training does, said Ali Moosa Alhussaini, Director of Technical Support & Operation for the Directorate General of Information Technology. "The CompTIA training is unique because is combined hardware and software learning objectives into one training program," he said.

The Ministry surveyed IT technicians' knowledge and skills and used that information to develop the new training program. The Ministry chose to use vendor-neutral CompTIA exams to measure its employees' IT knowledge and skills. Ministry officials hired IITC and Promatas, both of whom are local CompTIA authorized partners, to deliver the CompTIA training.

"We chose it because we know that CompTIA and its partners have a professional way to transfer the knowledge to our technicians and engineers," said Ahmed Mukhaiti, head of the Directorate General of Information Technology's Hardware Section.

Adds Alhussaini: "I think it's the best available on the market to strengthen our technicians' knowledge and skills for their careers."

Coordinated Professional Development

The Ministry worked with IITC and Promatas to schedule groups of IT technicians and engineers for training and testing. The weeklong training and testing sessions took place at a centralized training center and also several mobile sites.

IITC and Promatas trained an average of 200 employees each year. Employees first trained for the CompTIA A+ exam. Once employees earn the CompTIA A+ certification, they can train for the CompTIA Network+ exam. Once they have earned both the A+ and the Network+ credentials, they can train to earn their CompTIA Server+ certification.

About 80 percent of the Ministry IT technicians and engineers had earned their CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+ credentials as of April 2013. "By 2014, we will have all the IT technicians certified," said Fatma Rawahi, system supervisor for technical support and operations within the Ministry.

Rawahi schedules the CompTIA courses, and she reports that the IT technicians and engineers are keen to enroll for the training. "There is enthusiasm, indeed, and competition among technicians to take the courses and get their certifications," she said.

The Ministry will analyze the results of the training in late 2013. That information will help education officials decide how to improve the program with more specific certifications. "We're starting from the basics, and moving to the advanced," said Alhussaini. "In this program, you can evaluate the level of knowledge technicians and engineers gain from each course to see if they are ready to move onto the next level of training."

Mark Plunkett, regional director of CompTIA's Emerging Markets in Europe and the Middle East, said, "The Ministry's training using CompTIA's internationally recognized certifications was very well thought-out and has steadily improved the skills of its IT staff.

"It's great to see CompTIA's certification portfolio making a difference in Oman's education system," said Plunkett.

Ministry officials believe that the training has wide, positive impact. "If we train our engineers and technicians to become IT certified, and support their professional development, they provide good service to the students inside the schools," said Mukhaiti.

Added Alhussaini, "We've seen a big improvement in the level and quality of technical support, and fewer technical problems with hardware, networks and applications."

CompTIA offers a comprehensive way for the Ministry's IT staff to improve and confirm their skills. "They need to have knowledge of all areas of IT—networking, hardware, applications, and information security," said Alhussaini. "That's available only with CompTIA."

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