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Microsoft Planning to Certify Half a Million in China

China is a potentially huge market for the IT industry. And, of course, Microsoft would never miss out on an opportunity like that.

China is a potentially huge market for the IT industry. And, of course, Microsoft would never miss out on an opportunity like that.

To that end, the software giant plans on training—and certifying—about half a million Chinese people over the next five years.

It’s an initiative driven by the Chinese Ministry of Education, according to Lutz Ziob, general manager for training and certification at Microsoft. During a wide-ranging interview with MCP Magazine, Ziob said the company wants foreign governments to “look at Microsoft and say, ‘How can you help us bring up our workforce to where it can compete with the world?’”

The students will be trained at local polytechnic schools, using curricula co-designed by Microsoft and China. Certification achievement will be a required part of the program, Ziob said. Redmond is working with the Chinese company ATA to develop testing materials. The paths will be similar to current training programs for certifications like the Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD) and Microsoft Certified System Administrator (MCSA).

Ziob said that Microsoft, like any other company, has to compete in the global marketplace. He emphasized that the program’s purpose isn’t to develop a new, cheap pool of labor in order to move more jobs offshore. He does believe that more offshore outsourcing is inevitable, however. “The development we’re seeing around the globe will happen with or without Microsoft,” he said. “We’re a part of it. That development [in China] will happen, because the Chinese government will make it happen.”

In other matters, responding to a recent series of news stories on MCPMag.com that exposed the allegedly illegal and unethical business practices of a Certified Technical Education Center (CTEC) in Florida, Ziob said he “doesn’t believe we have an ethical agreement with companies.”

The CTEC agreement a company must sign to be approved by Microsoft, Ziob said, “doesn’t regulate how they behave as an organization. If things are going astray, on a one-by-one basis, we’d clearly look at this. If they abuse and mistreat our agreement, we will, and have in the past, taken steps.”

On the other hand, Ziob continued, “Microsoft can’t be the employee morale and treatment police” for the approximately 1,500 training companies with which it has agreements.

Turning to the newly created Microsoft Skills Assessment initiative, Ziob said he’s excited about the free program that analyzes a test-taker’s areas of strength and weaknesses and designs a training course to get IT skills up to par. (Check it out at http://www.microsoft.com/traincert/assessment/)

The 30-question assessments aren’t certification-preparation tests, Ziob stressed. “The assessments check readiness [to implement and administer Microsoft technologies]. We have to make sure the message is right,” and that a clear distinction is made between these assessment tests and a standard diagnostic exam, Ziob said.

Ziob also touched on the topic of braindumps. He believes Microsoft is making headway in protecting the integrity of its exams by shutting down Web sites that post exact questions and answers to its tests, although it doesn’t usually make its efforts public.

“What motivates us mostly is protecting our intellectual property. Publicizing could easily be [seen as] bragging. We’re more successful in the way we go about it. We work very proactively wherever appropriate. We don’t employ investigators” to go after alleged brain-dumpers, Ziob said.

He knows those sites are still out there, though, and said that the fight continues, even if it’s a battle that will never be completely won. “As far as I know, there’s not a silver bullet.”

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review.

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