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Next move: Which trainer offers the best course?

I am considering furthering my education to improve my career prospects. I am interested in computer programming and use some Visual Basic macros in my present job. I have looked at several course providers, but which one is the best? Also, which programming language is the industry standard? I have used Cobol, Pascal and Visual Basic but, looking at job adverts, Java and C++ pop up everywhere.

The solution: Ask for references from former students

In general terms, the idea of improving your career prospects through training is an excellent one. This is more prevalent when you are trying to secure a career in programming, which is a job that certainly requires training and the acquisition of new skills.

When choosing a course provider, the best method of making a decision is to ask each training centre for references from former students - each will have their strengths.

In relation to which programming language to focus on, there is no one industry standard. Different companies and different industry sectors favour different tools and languages. Java and C++ are in high demand, and either would be a good choice to study.

Many companies are still using Visual Basic, but it may be more prudent to learn C# (the follow on from Visual Basic) as Microsoft will stop supporting Visual Basic in a few years. Other considerations could be .net, as many employers would be interested in hiring someone with skills in VB.net, ASP.net, etc.

You should also consider which of these languages best suits your approach to programming and which is likely to interest you as a long-term career option.

Solution by Grant Seidner, operations manager at Reed Technology

The panel: MSB International, Spring Group, E-Skills UK, British Computer Society, Computer Futures, Hudson, Computer People, Elan, Reed Technology, Zarak Technology.

E-mail your career questions to computerweekly@rbi.co.uk

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