Software course trainers keen on NZQA approval

A number of local training providers say NZQA approval for certified software engineer courses would help make the qualification more attractive to students - by letting them qualify for student loans. The popularity of the MCSE (Microsoft-certified systems engineer) - and also CNE (certified Novell engineer) - is growing and fees could be tough for indivduals to meet.

A number of local training providers say NZQA approval for certified software engineer courses would help make the qualification more attractive to students - by letting them qualify for student loans.

The popularity of the MCSE (Microsoft-certified systems engineer) - and also CNE (certified Novell engineer) - is growing and fees could be tough for indivduals to meet. Although the costs could be as low as about $150 for each of the six examinations if people don't need training, it can be as much as $15,000 if they choose full instructor-led training.

LearnKey New Zealand marketing manager Rob Douglas says it's frustrating certification is not recognised by NZQA. Neither Novell nor Microsoft have sought NZQA approval for their engineer certification. NZQA approval means students can qualify for a student loan.

He says LearnKey - which provides videos and CD-ROMS for self-paced learning - knows of many people who are doing the training without company sponsorship.

"It [NZQA approval] would make it accessible to a lot more people."

Comtech education services manager Rebecca Hosking says it would be advantageous for people who did not have a company backing them.

However, because the qualifications are so highly respected she didn't think the NZQA recognition would make any difference to how they're seen in the industry.

She says the demand for certification is definitely increasing.

"A lot of people are having that cross-discipline. They're either a CNE and want to do the MCSE track. They want to have both qualifications up their sleeve."

One training provider who did not wish to be named questioned if some providers would meet NZQA standards.

"To become NZQA qualified there is quite a process involved and I'm not sure whether a lot of providers would stand up to that."

Microsoft has discussed the issue with NZQA, but says it is a complex process.

Microsoft marketing manager Ross Peat says it's hard for a worldwide certification programme to conform to the different qualification frameworks of different countries. He says Microsoft discussed with NZQA last year how the industry focused training and qualifications framework could be brought together.

He says that after discussions it was thought best to "hold fire", but support any training partner who might seek NZQA approval.

Peat says Microsoft has talked with tertiary institutions under the banner of the company's Authorised Academic Training Programme (AATP).

Organisations like AIT, using the AATP framework, are bringing to market training courses with units that have - as one of their outputs - Microsoft-certified professional qualifications.

Microsoft training and certification programme manager Jillian Goodman says students learn the same material as they would through an authorised technical education centre (ATEC) and sit the same exam. They get discounts for exam fees.

AIT is doing a Visual Basic course and will be looking at branching out into operating systems.

Goodman says Microsoft is talking to a variety of other academic institutions.

The institutions are facing a demand from both the industry and students.

However, she says it does take time, and is more a long-term focus. Rather than envisaging students coming out with an MCSE, the focus is more on specific areas of accreditation like Visual Basic.

Meanwhile, New Zealand students next year could study for Novell certification while they are at polytechnic.

Eventually, Novell will consider offering the certified Novell administrator (CNA) at secondary school level. The CNA is already offered in secondary schools in the US and in Canberra.

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