Flurry of Feedback: Finding a CTEC

A number of Microsoft Certified Trainers are up in arms over an MCP Magazine article they say puts contract trainers in an unfavorable light.

A four-part series of stories that appeared in consecutive e-mail newsletters last week detailed the problems faced by a Florida Certified Technical Education Center. The last installment of the series gave tips for helping students find the right training center, CTEC or school. One tip stated that "Your chances of getting solid, consistent training are enhanced if the CTEC uses primarily full-time MCTs instead of contract trainers. There's a greater likelihood that a full-time instructor will be there the entire length of your training, as a contractor's schedule tends to be less predictable—and the position a bit more expendable by the training firm that's hired him or her."

Many MCTs wrote MCP Magazine to protest this characterization. MCT Chuck Cook said, "I consider this statement to be groundless, ill-informed, and irresponsible." He added that "certainly, a student might get 'consistent' training if they have the same instructor for the entire length of their track, but it could easily be consistently mediocre. And even if the staff instructor is excellent, the students are still denied the opportunity to experience different analogies, different prejudices and biases (which all IT professionals have) and different examples based on the real-world experiences of the instructor."

MCT Chris Randall said he's seen both sides of the equation. "As one who has both been on staff at CTECs and an indie for more than nine years, I find your comment absurd and groundless. Quality of instruction has everything to do with the trainer, and nothing whatsoever to do with the trainer's tax/employment status."

MCT and author Russ Kaufmann (who has written for MCP Magazine) believes that independent contractors will often be more knowledgeable than staff trainers. "Since it is impossible for staff trainers to teach three to four weeks every month, they will never get ramped up nor gain real world experience in the higher-end Microsoft products like SharePoint Portal Server, Exchange, SQL, MMS, MOM, and so on. These classes should always be taught by independent trainers that are higher-end trainers with real-world experience in the products."

MCP John Hanrahan pointed out the benefits of getting computer training from another source, one with good long-term stability. "Many community and four-year colleges offer Microsoft track programs. These schools almost never go out of business and generally have excellent retake/audit policies. I neither work (for) nor have I taken classes at one of these, yet I know that every single community college near my house offers these courses."

Kaufmann had an additional suggestion on finding qualified trainers. "It is very important to also see the trainer's Microsoft transcript to see if they have even passed the test for the course they are teaching. The resume should provide some information about experience with the products, but I think you will find that very few CTEC trainers have real world experience, which is why the CTEC model is failing, in my opinion."

He thinks doing a comparison of staff versus independent trainers would bear his point out. "You should ask to see some resumes of some independent trainers, then ask a local CTEC to send you a resume of some of their staff trainers. You will be amazed."

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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