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Do Professional Certifications Matter: a Case Study from Singapore

img-cloudIn this study commissioned by iKompass, correlations between certifications and salary are explored. The study group was made of 127 people who were involved in taking up different certifications such as PMP (Project Management Professional) certification, Cloud certification, CCNA etc.
For a small country such as Singapore that has no natural resources, people are its biggest asset. Just as a country that has oil nurtures its petroleum industry with utmost care, Singapore nurtures its people by creating an environment conducive to talent. The certifications or credentials one holds presumably plays a big role in decision making related to careers.
The study involved establishing a correlation between the number of credentials and the corresponding salaries people earned. The sample size for the study was all from Singapore and randomly selected based on similar demographic criterion such as common university education, age, etc.

Leaders of organizations constantly gripe about not having enough talent. With constant change looming over the horizon, it is imperative that one stays ahead of the talent game. This is achieved through upgrading oneself through education. Beyond the industry need for certified professionals, people in Singapore seem to be intrinsically motivated to learn. 83% of the participants in the iKompass said that they enjoyed the process of learning beyond just landing a job.

Companies spend millions in upgrading their employees skills at all levels. 90% of our participants attended at least 1 in-house training required by the company and 68% of our participants attended a workshop of their own choice. The study also focused on the tangible value that resulted from people undergoing training.

In real terms, the study tracked the career progress of 40 credential holders who attended a PMP training in Singapore conducted by. As a control group, study included 40 non credential holders from the same organizations as that of the PMP credential holders. This was a between group experiment and both groups had similar age and college education profiles.

The independent variable was the number of credentials along with the a weighting score for each credential based on the perceived importance. The dependent variable was the salary in Singapore dollars. The study was interested in exploring whether those with higher scores in their credential variable also had a higher salary.

The null hypothesis was that obtaining a credential had no significant impact on salary. The alternate hypothesis was that certifications had a significant effect on salary. After running correlation tests, the study had the following results r(39) = 0.4334 p

In order to determine the value of certifications to the organizations, the study collected data on the revenues/productivity gains and other efficiency measures of departments and business units that the participants worked in. After converting these metrics to a standard score, the study revealed that departments or business units that had more certified people performed better than departments with lesser certified staff.

This lends to the inference that certifications do add value to individuals as well as businesses. The government in Singapore has a good hold on shaping the path toward skills upgrading in the form of incentives, subsidies and other schemes. For example, the courses offered by approved training providers are funded by the government to cover 50% of the courses fees and 50% of the exam fees under the Critical Information Technology Resource Enhancement Program (CITREP) program.

Having done trainings across different countries, the instructors at iKompass say that participants in Singapore have the most motivation when it comes to skills upgrading. The PMP classes that iKompass runs in Singapore has had a 100% pass rate in the last 4 months. The same instructors teaching in other countries including countries in Europe and Americas see an average pass rate of approximately 82%.

With the recent development and growth of Web 2.0 technologies, the country has seen a rapid increase in web based start-ups. This has fueled talent shortage in the arena of web programming for technologies using PHP, Ruby on Rails etc., Training providers have seen a growing interest from people without any programming experience to learn web development. To cater to this market, iKompass has a intensive 4 weeks web developer bootcamp in Singapore.
In conclusion, for a country with a history of less than 50 years and with a population of less than 5 million, Singapore relies on its people to propel the economy. With people being its biggest asset, skills, certifications and credentials matter a lot. With the growth in mobile technologies, there is now a rush towards upgrading skills in the domains of iOS and Android programming. iKompass has reported a significant interest for iOS training and Android training workshops in Singapore over the last one year.

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