Microsoft has simplified its certified practitioner exams, in a move it claimed could cut IT training costs for employers.
From 7 November, IT employees will be able to sit MCP exams covering the skills they need for their jobs, and omit exams in skills they do not require.
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IT staff studying for MCP status in databases, for example, previously had to learn the skills needed for all job roles used to manage large databases.
Under the new exam structure, IT staff specialising in databases can choose one of three modules: database administrator, database developer, or business intelligence developer. They sit a common exam in SQL Server 2005.
Ram Dhaliwal, Microsoft's manager for training and certification, said, "It really makes the job easier for an IT manager. If it is two or three exams less, there will be a cost difference there."
The new certification structure is being introduced on the same day that Microsoft launches SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005 and Biztalk 2006.
IT employees studying for MCP status in the upgraded systems will be among the first to sit the new exams. The 1.8 million people worldwide with MCP qualifications will be required to sit the new exams when they seek to upgrade their technical skills.
Dhaliwal said, "Our users have come back with one clear message: customers want to be able to focus on specific individuals. [Under our previous exam structure], we did not allow individuals to differentiate themselves."