Learning From Certification
Differentiating the new, integrated security market
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Mar 01, 2017
With the universal migration toward IP-based security
systems and the increased demand for
higher-level systems integration, the security
industry is seeing a major shift in the roles of its
professionals. This is having a big impact on skill
requirements within the industry.
We recently spoke with Greg Willmarth, the director of learning
& performance for Milestone Systems, to discuss how these market
advancements are impacting the company’s approach to learning,
certification and on-the-job performance assurance.
Q. The security industry is in the middle of a transformation. As
a technology provider, how is the shift in core knowledge needs
impacting your training efforts?
A. Well, there is a big shift happening, and like many manufacturers
and technology developers in this industry, we’re constantly working
to provide our customers with the knowledge and skills they need to
succeed. Early in 2016, we began rolling out a completely new training
and certification program, with the goal of increasing the level of
on-the-job expertise in designing and implementing solutions.
As more integrators enter the IP video market, often with limited
IT experience, we see a growing need to help ensure that they
have the skills to successfully perform in the field. After all, a certification
is a promise to customers that the certified individual has
the necessary level of proven expertise for successful system design,
installation and configuration. Our reputation, as well as the integrator’s,
is on the line. To best deliver on this promise, we began
creating new training tools from the ground up in three different
areas: eLearning modules, instructor-led workshops, and certification
assessments. We focused on elevating the on-the-job performance
of our partners, as well as globally growing the number of
people with proven expertise in the design and implementation of
IP VMS solutions.
Q. You mention global partners, who are independent integrators
and installers; how do you reach them?
A. To jump-start channel expertise with our products, especially our
business-ready solutions, we began developing an extensive eLearning
program. The goal of these short, on-demand, self-paced modules
is to provide learners with a basic level of knowledge and skill in designing,
installing, configuring, or using our products. With the goal
to support job performance, each module focuses on the key tasks
and steps that need to be completed. As opposed to passive training
videos, these interactive eLearning modules make it easy to navigate
to the exact job task desired and get hands-on practice completing
the steps through interactive simulations.We offer an ever-increasing
number of eLearning courses for integrators and reseller partners, as
well as end-user customers.
Q. How is this shift affecting classroom courses?
A. With the same goal, we have redesigned our instructor-led classes
to better prepare learners to perform on the job. First, we worked
to clearly understand what knowledge and skills are truly necessary,
so we performed a detailed job competency analysis. We identified
exactly which competencies are required to successfully design, install,
and configure video surveillance solutions from moderate to
high complexity. We then looked at who performed these different
tasks in the field, and quickly realized that the people responsible for
designing the solution were often different from those who installed
and configured the system on site. It became apparent that we needed
separate classes for design and technical installation to better serve
the various needs of these different audiences.
Finally, we wanted to make the classes even more hands-on than
our previous training. We created new learning experiences that are
more “learning-while-doing” practical workshops than traditionally
structured “presentation-of-information” classes. In the technical
workshops, learners practice going through the tasks and steps required
to perform an actual installation based on realistic customer
scenarios and specifications. To help bridge the learning from the
classroom to the field, learners follow detailed job aids that walk them
through each step of the installation. After the workshop, they can
use the job aids in the field during live installations.
Q. You speak about training to specifically increase on-the-job
performance; how does this impact certification programs?
A. We need to make sure that our certifications represent real value
to our customers and the market, and we take this very seriously. We
engaged an outside expert to help redesign our certification strategy
to make our assessments similar to those in the IT industry, with better
measures of on-the-job performance ability.
The first step was to separate our certification assessments from
our training classes. After all, training and certification are two different
things. Training is where knowledge and skills are developed.
Certifications are proof that an individual has achieved the required
levels of knowledge and skill. We eliminated the certification requirement
of attending training, stopped administering the certification
assessment as part of our workshops, and moved our certification assessments
online. At the same time, we significantly improved the
quality of the assessments. We increased the number of questions,
added simulation and scenario question types, and implemented
question randomization and the use of question pools.
As a result, our new certification assessments are more challenging,
so achieving certification is truly an achievement. Many people
need to take the assessments several times before passing, even after
taking one of our workshops. Other people, who have yet to gain the
needed expertise, simply do not pass, which is appropriate.
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Security Today.