Pearson VUE’s 2023 Value of IT Certification Candidate Report highlights the importance of certification for career progression in a post-pandemic era

The 2023 Value of IT Certification Candidate Report, the eighth in an ongoing series, shares the perspectives and experiences of more than 21,000 professionals in 176 countries who prepared for and earned IT certifications with Pearson VUE amidst changing and challenging working conditions. This year’s report proves even further that the value of IT certifications is understood and appreciated by both those pursuing them and their employers.

Certification candidates are investing in building their knowledge and skills, starting to pursue credentials earlier in their careers, and enjoying benefits such as earning more money, finding more fulfilling jobs, and feeling more confident in their capabilities.

Likewise, their employers are supporting employee upskilling efforts and as a result, seeing higher quality work outputs and improving employee retention rates. We remain convinced that these are no longer trends but new realities, and that IT certifications will continue to demonstrate value across industries, on a global scale.

Dr. Gary Gates, Managing Director, Pearson VUE states, “The report provides a view into why people seek certification, how they benefit, and how obtaining credentials impacts the bottom lines of their employers. This edition also reveals how certification dynamics have changed since our previous candidate-focused report, and what to expect over the next year.”

Some of the report’s key findings include:

1. Candidates invested in certification to find better job opportunities — and many were rewarded for their efforts. 37% of candidates received salary increases after earning their certifications, an additional 42% still anticipate receiving one, and 27% accepted job promotions. “It is clear that certification enabled the acquisition of new skills, qualifying candidates for better and more rewarding jobs,” says Dr. Gates.

2. Credentialed employees are more empowered and contribute greater value. The report found that 92% of candidates are more confident in their abilities, and 81% have more confidence to explore new job opportunities.

“Respondents, therefore, confirmed that they believe that certification not only increases mobility for them as employees but also increases profitability for the companies that they work for,” shares Dr. Gates. “By gaining certifications, candidates are well placed to better their current work conditions or enhance their prospects when exploring new job opportunities.”

3. Skills gaps will shrink faster, as younger people pursue certifications and do so earlier in their learning journeys. Younger generations are adopting certification at higher rates than their more mature counterparts and getting started sooner. Proportions of first-time candidates 34 years and younger increased, while those 55 years and older decreased. 42% of Gen Z and 15% of Millennials considered certification as students compared to just 7% of Baby Boomers.

4. The report also indicates that the pandemic’s disruptive impacts are here to stay, having accelerated the arrival of the “future” workplace, where technology skills have become baseline requirements. IT certification has historically been viewed as a solution for “future-proofing” the workforce; enabling businesses to quickly respond to skills gaps by upskilling existing employees. As a result of the pandemic, the skills previously required to “future-proof” a business are now critical success factors, with the report showing that 65% of candidates and 55% of their employers increased investments in IT skilling.

5. Finally, convenience (and perhaps also the effects of the pandemic) influenced exam prep methods. Candidates preferred self-directed preparation methods over enrollment in training courses and relied more on online sources to prepare for and take exams. 86% of respondents who enrolled in exam prep courses opted for online delivery of those courses.

“We had no doubt that the trends emerging from the pandemic would have far-reaching and lasting implications on the workplace and certification. What has become evident is that remote working and learning is here to stay, and with that, the demand for the necessary skills and certifications will support this new way of working and learning. As we move into a post-pandemic era, we are faced with stark realities: enduring talent shortages, remote or hybrid working routines have become the norm, and now more than ever employers are desperate to fill crucial skills gaps with certified candidates,” concludes Dr. Gates.

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