Getting to Know the IT Certification Council (ITCC)
I've worked with Dell certification staffers for at least a decade now. Because their global HQ is about three miles from my house in Round Rock, Texas, I get together with current and former members of the Dell education team every now and then just to keep caught up on what's new with their training and cert activities, as well as to talk about general trends and news for the whole traincert space.
A couple of months ago, while also devouring an excellent and authentic fish and chips lunch — including authentic "mushy peas" — I learned about the IT Certification Council (ITCC) for the first time. In the interests of complete disclosure, I will also observe that they've contact me about possibly writing some bespoke blog posts for them, but that nothing has come of it yet.
Who Is the ITCC?
The organization involves a raft of IT industry players that includes OEMs (e.g. Dell Technologies, HPE, IBM, Lenovo, and other), IT technology companies (e.g. Cisco, Google, Juniper, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, and others), and an astonishingly broad range of IT certification training, content development, and testing and metrics companies (e.g. Alpine, Arcitura, CertiProf, Certiverse, examity, ITS, and many more).
You can find a display of member logos on their About page. Alas I couldn't find a list of members despite a fair bit of searching around; that self same page assets that the "ITCC is a community of 50+ of the most respected companies in the IT certification industry." Indeed, I count 51 logos under the "Our Members" heading.
What Is the ITCC's Professed Mission?
The ITCC is a registered nonprofit organization. Its primary objective is "growing and promoting professional IT certifications." That means they are involved in demonstrating and selling the value of certification.
They are also involved, however, in promoting certification exam security and integrity, and boosting overall innovation in how certs get designed, built, delivered, and maintained. Finally, the ITCC seeks to establish, document, and share industry best practices as they relate to building, delivering, testing and protecting certifications.
Qualifications for ITCC Membership
You'll find the complete info on this topic on the organization's "Become a Member" page, but here's a capsule summary: Candidate companies or organizations (interestingly, ISACA is a member but ISC2 and CompTIA are both absent from the logo collection) must meet the following qualifications to join the ITCC:
- The business focus and activity must be in or on the IT sector.
- The organization must already sponsor or promote an IT certification program, or be considering one.
- The organization must be known in the IT industry as one that practices "the highest levels of professional competence and business ethics." (Presumably this ties to a formal code of conduct to which members must adhere.)
Once accepted as members, organizations are obliged to:
- Attend and participate in virtual monthly member meetings, with face-to-face biannual convocations. (I'm wondering whether they actually mean semi-annual, because they mention virtual hosting in 2021 and 2022, which are only one year apart — go figure!)
- Participate in ITCC programs and initiative
- Agree to abide by ITCC council decisions following best and reasonable business efforts and practices
- Agree to abide by the ITCC's current bylaws, mission statement, and vision
All in all, it seems like a reasonable and defensible approach, but will very likely obligate members to dedicate one or more full-time staff to liaison and participation, plus whatever membership costs may be involved as well.
What Do Member Companies Get for Buying In?
Collaboration brings member reps together for monthly open sessions, taskforce and workgroup participation, bi-annual in-person meetings, and ongoing virtual discussion forums.
Networking opportunities abound, as member reps (and other invited member organization staffers) meet and connect with leaders from all the different constituencies in the ITCC. These include IT organizations and exam suppliers per the ITCC, and also content developers, publishers, cert service providers of all kinds from my analysis of the member logos.
Education comes in many forms through the ITCC, including monthly education sessions, access to a library of recorded sessions, white papers from members for members (case studies, research projects, best practice documents) and output from task force projects and research.
Industry influence: Input into IT industry best practices development and promulgation, awareness and value for certification promoted through supported legislation, plus participation in other industry associations including Professional Certification Coalition (PCC) and Association of Test Publishers (ATP).
Industry recognition: (Ha!) Member logos on ITCC website, mention in white papers, member accomplishments highlighted and promoted in press releases, content, and blog posts, capped off with annual ITCC Innovation Awards.
Task forces and workgroups currently active include: Securing Certifications, Speed Agility and Rapid Change (SPARC) for agile development approaches to certification design, development, delivery and maintenance.
DE&I Workgroup (Diversity Equity and Inclusion): Best DEI principles and practices for the certification industry (something of a target for neocons at present).
Strategic Plan Workshops: Provide input into and direction for the development and maintenance of the ITCC's mission and strategic plan.
In 2021 and 2022, ITCC task forces completed projects related to the impact of generative AI, best practices when working with SMEs, a remote proctoring survey, differentiating certifications versus learning assessments, and a persona journeys white paper. Resources available through the ITCC appear on its resources page.
They include a calendar of upcoming events, one to three monthly blog posts, occasional press releases, and 5 pretty interesting white papes (topics include certs vs. learning assessments, value of IT certification, agile exam development, remote proctoring trends, and a digital badging overview).
What's In It for IT Certification Candidates?
You can learn quite a bit about how certification programs work, and how the various building blocks of certification — training materials, self-assessments, practice and real exams, continuing education requirements for cert maintenance, and more — get put together, subjected to quality control, and maintained over time.
Unless you work with certification (consultants and individual practitioners can join the ITCC in special membership categories), however, there's not much here for rank-and-file IT workers. It does provide lots of interesting perspective on how certification programs come together and how their sponsors seek to establish, demonstrate, and protect their value and integrity. Good stuff!