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Training’s shift to virtual is a lasting legacy of the pandemic

CompTIA has shone the spotlight on how Covid-19 has changed the industry as it starts its EMEA partner event

CompTIA has kicked off its EMEA partner and member event with a focus on charting the impact of the coronavirus on the industry, showing that the pandemic has had a major impact on the training world.

With staff stuck at home in lockdown with time on their hands, the demand for training has surged over the past seven months and some of the changes in delivery are likely to remain permanent.

John McGlinchey, executive vice-president, global certification at CompTIA, said there had been a shift to virtual training and that was likely to stay as a feature of the industry.

“When everything shut down back in March, it was sheer panic across the industry in terms of education and certification and immediately we had a lot of calls and a lot of concerned customers, partners and also students,” he said. “Working with Pearson VUE, our partner, we spun up online testing pretty quickly in April.

“Prior to Covid, a lot of our partners were already offering virtual training classes. But then, once the pandemic hit, those who hadn’t taken up virtual took it up pretty quickly and quite seriously, so everybody pretty much pivoted and got into virtual IT training pretty quickly.”

McGlinchey added: “I think what we’ll see as one of the lasting impacts from the pandemic is more IT workers will use a lot more virtual training long after Covid has gone.”

He said the pandemic had shone a light on the challenges, particularly in education, around providing virtual training and, going forward, more effort was needed on that front to make life easier for users.

“If we can come up with some innovative products that directly address the challenges of learning in a virtual environment, then I think those would be real winners,” said McGlinchey.

Meredith Patton, director of cyber operations at Protection Group International (PGI), said there had to be adaptations to testing that would normally be done in person and on-site.

“We have seen a number of really quick pivots towards delivery of online training and PGI has adopted some of its technical courses to deliver remotely,” she said.

Tracy Pound, managing director of MaximITy, said that during the pandemic, many people had been given a chance to learn differently and had embraced collaboration tools.

“There was a real big desire to learn technology on a very different level,” she said. “I think that is a fantastic opportunity, that is still very much there in our industry, to help people to genuinely use technology in a better way.”

Pound warned that just because the use of tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom had exploded, that did not mean the need for training providers to educate users had been completed.

“I don’t think it’s the technology that’s holding companies back now; I think it’s people who are holding companies back,” she said. “And I think there are a lot of people who are struggling to make a long-term transition into a more remote working world.”

Steven Capper, CIO at SNC Lavalin Group, used the session to comment on the position the IT industry found itself in at this point in the pandemic.

“The really positive thing for us it that we are in technology and it is moving from getting bashed over the head for performance to all of a sudden execs saying that it is fantastic and IT has kept them going,” he said.

“I think we’re in a great industry and we’re going to build on that and keep going and come up with new creative ideas to help make the business more efficient and deliver.”

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