As I have little interest in fish pedicures, mojitos or teeth whitening (though I could probably benefit from all three), I tend to disregard the several emails I receive from Groupon each day.
But one missive from the discount deal website last month did pique my interest. Teamed up with offers for cut-price garden furniture and pastry-making courses was an opportunity to avail yourself of Cisco training at an incredible 96 per cent discount.
This equated to a £2,760-valued course being offered for just £99. Even by the eye-catching standards of Groupon and other such sites, that is a pretty hefty saving.
The offer, from independent training provider Careermatch, covered a quintet of Cisco training courses intended to prepare techies to sit exams for the vendor’s Voice, CCNP, CCENT, CCNA and CCNA Security qualifications.
Cisco’s UK leader of partner and commercial sales Richard Roberts issued CRN with the following statement: “While Careermatch may offer training for Cisco certifications, the training itself is not ‘Cisco certified’, or otherwise endorsed by Cisco.”
A quick search of the Groupon archives reveals this is not the first such offer, with a number of training providers offering courses for qualifications from Cisco, Microsoft, CompTIA and others.
But Richard Eglon, marketing director for Cisco authorised Learning Partner Comms-care, claimed that this was the first time he had heard of a training firm outside of the authorised channel offering such mind-bogglingly cut-price training on Groupon.
“We have CCIE-level training guys who are actually engineers who have moved into training,” Eglon (pictured, right) explained. “For us to get anywhere near that price just would not work. We give our courses to a maximum of six people.”
Computerlinks provides training courses for a wide range of security and networking vendors. Katie Lyon, training product group manager, claimed a recent deal to provide training to a group of engineers had been cancelled “at the last minute in favour of a cheaper alternative”.
“We were not surprised to hear that the non-certified training course did not meet the customer’s requirements, and they were left with little alternative but to return to us,” said Lyon. “Not only did the customer pay for the training twice, they had 20 engineers out of the office on a training course for twice the anticipated amount of time.”
CompTIA offers a wide range of vendor-independent qualifications for IT professionals.
Graham Hunter, UK director of the industry body, explained that: "[I]n an ideal scenario, the route to certification would be through CompTIA-authorised partners, because we can then guarantee that they have gone through our quality process.
"Part of it is being confident enough that the training you are receiving is the most up-to-date version. Every three years we have to update [the certifications] and we work very closely to share those updates ahead of time with partners to enable them to get up to speed."
But Hunter claimed that “in essence, it is great that people want to reduce the cost” of IT training. The CompTIA man explained that, rather than condemn independent providers, his organisation prefers to try to work with them and coax them into providing training through official authorised channels.
One such independent provider to have been courted by CompTIA is Robust IT.
Director Darren Bilmen told CRN that his firm, which offers both online and classroom-based Microsoft and CompTIA training, will always include the cost of sitting an exam in its course fees. With a first-time pass rate of 92 per cent, free resits on Microsoft and CompTIA qualifications are part of the deal.
Bilmen explained that Robust IT works to keep class sizes to “no more than 10” and that all its training software is written in-house. Obtaining a CCNA badge via the company typically costs about £350, he claimed.
He asserted that his firm and others, such as Just IT, are diligent and ethical companies offering training that is every bit as good as authorised providers. But he added that it is naïve to claim that there are not “rogue elements” within the IT training sector.
“The biggest problem in our marketplace is when you get firms claiming to be the companies whose training they offer,” he added. “We always advertise as Robust IT – we are proud of our identity.”
Gert De Laet, EMEAR lead for [email protected], claimed that, whoever is teaching you, staying on top of the newest IT skills will be crucial for the world’s technology workforce in years to come.
He said: “The IT networking industry is changing rapidly in terms of the skill sets required, and for those who are able to stay on top of those changes, the demand will be intense in the coming years.”
It remains to be seen whether the demand for fish pedicures will remain equally intense.
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