As the students of the Thai-Nichi Institute of Technology (TNI) resumed classes after their October holiday, they returned, as always, to an educational experience quite unique to the Southeast Asian nation. The private university, funded in part by the Japanese government, prepares its students specifically to thrive in professional roles at the numerous Japanese enterprises that have locations throughout Thailand and the rest of the continent.
While TNI students always benefit from such unique offerings as compulsory Japanese language courses, this semester Dr. Thongchai Kaewkiriya’s IT students will gain an even bigger advantage in the eyes of companies like Fujitsu, Honda and Toyota — thanks to the innovative way he’s implemented CompTIA certifications in his classroom.
Certification Instead of a Final
Kaewkiriya currently teaches two classes — information systems project management and data center management — based on the curriculum for CompTIA’s Project+ and Network+ certifications, respectively. They represent two different, but critical, skill sets for students’ success in the IT job market.
“For IT project manager positions, students will need IT skills, like software development, network design infrastructure and security,” Kaewkiriya said. “They will also need soft skills, like project management.”
Students who choose to sit for the CompTIA exam in one of Kaewkiriya’s courses and pass it receive a powerful professional credential that is well-recognized by the corporations at which they’ll apply for jobs while bypassing an academic hurdle. Kaewkiriya sees CompTIA certifications as offering such unequivocal confirmation of the skills he teaches that students who earn one in his class are excused from taking the final exam.
But even for those who bypass certification, learning the CompTIA curriculum sets them up to be drastically more valuable to potential employers — and it’s a potential boon for the region’s IT industry as a whole.
Meeting Thailand’s Enterprise Needs
A student who has a [CompTIA certification] has a better chance of landing a competitive job than one without.
Throughout his 16 years as an IT researcher and 8 years as a lecturer, Kaewkiriya has observed the strengths and weaknesses of the industry he prepares his students to work in. He has seen that, while Thailand’s IT professionals are often skilled in the tech arena, they lack project management skills. Poor project coordination and misunderstandings about procedures and change management can lead to countless projects that never get off the ground, wasting money at an alarming rate. Kaewkiriya’s IT project management course positions students to help enterprises avoid these all-too-common pitfalls.
“[Project+ certified students] know how to control and monitor projects,” Kaewkiriya said. “They know how to write proposals; they understand project scheduling, cost estimation and so on.”
And even in their technical strengths, Thailand’s IT pros have room for growth with the standardization that a certification like Network+ brings to the table. Those who come out of Kaewkiriya’s data center management course know not just how to make a data center function, but how to do so following industry-wide best practices.
The high-level Japanese companies at which TNI students aim to work recognize this. They know CompTIA’s global reputation for IT excellence and that students who come out of Kaewkiriya’s courses — especially the approximately 30 percent of his students who get both certifications — are not only qualified to do the job, but also bring efficiency and effectiveness to their companies.
Gaining Technical and Soft Skills
While Kaewkiriya encourages all of his students to take both CompTIA exams, some face hurdles. An official exam can be intimidating to some and cost prohibitive to others. But the value of having it on one’s resume is undeniable — in Thailand and across the world. Those highly skilled students who polish their skills with Network+, build the critical and too-often-overlooked soft skills taught in Project+ and demonstrate them by earning the certifications are a step ahead of the others in terms of career prospects. And as more educational institutions in Thailand see the benefits of certification, the more IT lecturers will introduce CompTIA curricula into their courses — and, like Kaewkiriya, view a CompTIA exam as a worthy stand-in for a course final.
As Kaewkiriya continues into the next semester, the nearly 80 students pursuing bachelor’s studies and 11 pursuing a master’s degree in his courses will learn the CompTIA material in their chosen area and will have the opportunity to certify. Whether they’re honing their hard-tech skills in data center administration or are learning advanced, business-critical organization strategies in his project management course, those who get certified will be more confident in their own abilities when they walk into interviews. Likewise, potential employers will be confident in their ability to do the work befitting of those big-name global brands — and even to help them take operational efficiency to the next level.
“A student who has a [CompTIA certification] has a better chance of landing a competitive job than one without,” Kaewkiriya said.
Click here to find out more about using CompTIA’s Network+ and Project+ certifications in your school or university.
Matthew Stern is a freelance writer based in Chicago who covers information technology, retail and various other topics and industries.