Anyone who searches for a job on Indeed has come across postings that list Microsoft Office skills as a prerequisite for applicants.
But how can a person know if they’re really comfortable using all of the applications, including PowerPoint, Access, and Excel? And how can an employer determine if a job seeker is truly proficient?
There is a new way to answer these questions, according to Sid Khullar, coordinator of the technology and trades program in continuing studies at Vancouver Community College.
That’s because his postsecondary institution has become a Certiport-authorized testing centre, which means it will begin offering a Microsoft Office Specialist exam option at the downtown campus. The first test date is May 23.
“There is an increasing focus on microcredentials,” Khullar told the Straight by phone. “Once a person gets certified, they can proudly broadcast their accomplishment with digital badges on their website, on social media, and on professional platforms like LinkedIn. Certiport offers those professional badges.”
Anyone who takes the test can validate their skills in any of the Microsoft Office 2016 applications, including Word. Khullar said certification of skills is becoming increasingly relevant in the digital economy.
He also stated that he came across one statistic indicating that 91 percent of hiring managers consider certification a valuable tool to screen applicants. For those who feel they need to brush up on their skills, VCC offers general courses in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
“These courses are not designed to prepare them for certification,” he said, “but they will certainly help people learn about the topics and help them prepare.”
Khullar suggested that the Microsoft Office Specialist exam could be suitable for a wide range of people, including students, administrators, and those between jobs.
Not only can certification increase a person’s earning potential, it can validate one’s skills and increase self-confidence as well.
Khullar said it can also boost employers’ confidence that the worker can complete certain tasks efficiently and accurately. That, in turn, boosts productivity and employees’ motivation.
Certiport’s Canadian partner is CCI Learning, which is providing VCC with vouchers to offer the test to students.
For a limited time, Khullar said, the cost of the voucher and proctoring fee are included in the tuition fee of $89 (which is subject to change).
That’s not the only area of certification that VCC is exploring. Microsoft Azure is an ever-expanding set of cloud services that securely enables organizations to meet their business challenges.
“We are going to be offering a course in cloud computing that will help prepare students to write the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900) exam,” Khullar said.
He expects that this will also be available in May.