You can find more info on the Acquia "yellow jersey" project on their corporate website : here (you need to register) and here.
As I say in my blog certification is a real need for Drupal. On the other side I do not want one private company to be the central pivot of the Drupal certification program. This would ideally be the role of the Drupal association. Private companies should compete on providing excellent training programs... See my proposition here.
For example, Lullabot hands out certificates. However, no commercial company can call it "Drupal Training" or "Drupal Certification" without permission from the Drupal Association.
Anyone that believes there is a business opportunity in creating and maintaining a certification program around Drupal should do so. Even better, create the training collateral out in the open. Nothing has ever stopped "the community" from doing so other than the willingness of a group of people to drive such a thing.
I am a permanent member of the Drupal Association. The Drupal Association might want to approve certain certification programs in exchange for a licensing fee (to be allowed to use the trademark), but running it directly is certainly beyond the current bounds of the association (all volunteers, no paid employees).
The aim of the certification is to help end-users to evaluate a specialist by providing standard "levels of expertise".
Therefore, my point of view is that in order to be really effective, a certification for Drupal should be unique (or at least organized). If you let everybody build a certification you will loose clarity and it will be very difficult for potential Drupal end-user to navigate in a jungle of several different certifications. You have to put yourself in the mind of a customer, a customer that do not know a lot about the Drupal world : how would it be possible for him to evaluate a Drupal developer if before, he has to evaluate the quality of the certification ! Too many certifications would be a weakness, not a strength as you suggest.
This why I suggest that, at least, we try to have a coordination to build standardized levels of certification.
I also think that Certification should be open to companies.
Drupal Association can decide which companies can offer it. Something like :
1) Have x% of revenue of the entire company coming from Drupal Services
2) Have at least y amount of company's hours spent on Drupal development for CLIENT projects
Here only a Drupal Focused Company with certain size can pass these 2 criteria.
But certainly there should be open ground for others to offer certification. In the end whoever has the best program will be accepted by the developers and come out as market leader.
Certification to a developer is to validate his own skills rather than find a job. Certification can get you interview over someone who is not certified (if you have mentioned that you are certified in such and such) but at the same time, it can also affect you negatively as the kind of questions you get in interview will be tough ones.
Most people who get certification done think that they can demand higher pay and its natural. Even companies know that and that's why the moment one puts that he/she is certified in resume, it may happen that they may not clear the interview.
Personally I have come across many RedHat Certfied engineers as we expand our 24x7 Infrastructure monitoring team. Only 10% know the practical sys admin and that too not to the level we want it. Rather than pay above market rates, we ended up hiring fresh graduates and put them through 5 to 6 months on-job training. Later one of our team member applied for RedHat Certification and took the test and got 100% marks.
Certification alone has no value but Certification + Real World experience means a lot.
Coming back to who can offer certification, I second Boris though - other companies should be able to offer it.
-- Global Software Consulting
-- Global Software Consulting
We were very careful in the wording of our certificates however. They explicitly say:
This is to certify that
Has practiced and completed
We don't "certify" anyone in anything. We simply provide a certificate saying that you attended our course.
Yes, the certificate program needs to test specific skills. Personally, Drupal is requires so many skill sets, I think there should be groups or levels of certification. Groups meaning, Theme Integration, IA, Module Building, etc. In the end, it is really hard to be good at all of these. And I have found that hard core coders really enjoy coding and don't care so much about the rest of the processes or parts of making a Drupal site really rock. The same goes for designers. It just makes sense to have specific certifications. And to make it to where one company / group / person can have multiple certifications. If that is done then I think there will be more clarity in the long run for Acquia clients and we as service providers know where we stand in the whole scheme of things.
Another mention, I think the whole fastcompany.com thing was great. Seeing Drupal shops work together. This is the core of community and I hope the certification program will open the doors to seeing more of that.
Blogging about Drupal and web development: http://www.elvisblogs.org/drupal
Yes you are right, different certifications for different "skills set" is indeed what is needed.
Now imagine Acquia does certification on 5 different "skills set", and imagine only 4 other companies do the same. Then, on the market you will have something like 25 more or less different certifications for Drupal ! Imagine the added complexity for a potential customer...
From my understanding the customer is not the one who will decide. Or, if they do they will given options. I was thinking that Acquia will just push customers to certified Drupal shops/freelancers.
You have to remember too, that customers may want a company close to their location or x years of experience. I am sure there will be other parameters they can decide by.
When I took my job at Acquia it was because I listened to Jay and Dries spell out their vision and decided that Acquia would be able to do good things for Drupal. I was particularly excited to be involved in setting up training and certification programs because I knew from my previous consulting experience that there is a segment of the Drupal ecosystem that is clamoring for these services. In fact, I had already been involved in existing efforts to train more people. I want my efforts and Acquia's involvement to be a win for everyone involved, and this will happen if we can help Drupal grow in existing markets, help Drupal move into new markets, and hopefully raise the bar of professionalism at the same time.
Drupal is a distributed and collaborative effort, and that is something Acquia realizes and encourages. Therefore, please know:
This semester we have our second Drupal introduction course here at the University in Szeged. So far the different items in the course have been focusing on teaching people the basic concepts (the Drupal way of doing things) and showing them where to find more information when they need it. For this semester 70 students signed up (this means that about 40 will actually do the course).
Last semester students earned their credits with a not for profit project, this way we avoided the need for setting up a knowledge verification framework while mimicking the jazzy community way of doing things. This semester we are experimenting with DROP tasks as means for getting students involved/experienced.
I'm happy to collaborate on a curriculum/course material and I would love to built next semester's classes on a standardized framework. However I don't really see the university or the students paying for this (I'm giving these classes as a volunteer).
(this is a repost of http://acquia.com/projects/wiki/yellow-jersey#comment-253)
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Our shop's developers have many certifications in various systems, all of which are sitting forgotten in a file cabinet or desk drawer (if not already long since relegated to the round file), so count me as a bit of a skeptic towards certifications.
But training is indispensable, and in the end is the real key to growing Drupal, imho. That is why Lullabot's efforts are so incredibly valuable to the Drupal community. And the high-quality Drupal books as well. Certification that caps training, or serves as a "test" for a comprehensive, published training workbook, makes sense to me. However, certification alone, in a vacuum, risks at least the perception of exacting a price without first establishing value.
pingVision, LLC (we're hiring)
I couldn't agree more with your statement that certification alone in a vacuum is meaningless. Acquia fully intends to move in parallel with training initiatives and documentation.
My experience with certification has been positive. It was positive because the certification I achieved (Sun Certified Java Developer) represented a real achievement. It wasn't easy for me to get, and the process of preparing for the exam taught me more about Java than the college courses I had been taking prior to the exam. This is the type of experience we're trying to design for people in the Drupal community.
Our CEO, Jay Batson, notes that his favorite certification program is Cisco's:
Certification needs to mean something in order to be of value to anybody. In my book, the best example is Cisco's certifications. If I want to deploy a complex IP network, I simply don't think twice; I wouldn't hire anybody who doesn't at least have a CNE. Cisco has demonstrated the value of their certification program simply through proving that the people with the certifications merit distinction over people who don't have the cert, and they can be trusted to design good networks. Creating a cert program with this level of achievement is a high bar, and takes a lot of work / investment. The test questions need to be created by a body of people who can create a large body (e.g. 5x the actual test size) of questions that can adequately test abilities (so the answers can't be sandbagged); the testing needs to be administered in a proctored way so that there's no cheating; there should be levels of achievement, and different certifications for different skill types (e.g. admin vs. programmer); those with certifications need to be distinguished in their execution post-certification; they need to demonstrate continuing learning as the state of the art changes; etc. All this takes time, and we (at Acquia) must prove that we're reaching these goals before our certifications should be accepted as truly indicative of ability. If we don't achieve this level of goal, we (Acquia) will declare defeat. (And this is not something I'm planning on doing.)
Another point we'd like to stress is that gaining certification shouldn't be overly costly. The cost of certification itself should be modest. This initiative isn't intended to generate Acquia a substantial amount of revenue. The goal is to add value to the community by helping it grow. For instance, though the reputation of companies like PingVision are likely to speak for themselves for a long time to come, what about the "local" web developer who is going to build a site for a customer for $10k? Who are they? What's their expertise level? Certification can help provide some (admittedly not definitive) insight into whether the developer has a clue or not.
Although our training will certainly encompass the curriculum to be covered by our certification, the point of training won't be "to pass the test". The programs will be decoupled but complimentary. Our training needs to be of value in and of itself, not just a conduit to churn out certificates.
See Acquia's answer to this discussion : http://acquia.com/blog/a-skeptic-plans-a-certification-program
Thank's again Acquia for open and fair discussion : +1 for you.
Only found this discussion after posting http://drupal.org/node/282254. I know I would've voted differently.
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