If I need to train and develop IT staff, is it a good idea to target such activities around related technical or professional certifications?
The quick answer to this question is a qualified "yes," but the real answer depends on the subject matter and the type of certification involved. If your investigations turn up many certifications with no clear market leader on a certain subject or topic (computer forensics is an excellent example of this kind of thing, with over 30 credentials but no clear market leader in this area just yet), you may be better off looking for training that's affordable, adequate and convenient rather than trying to pick the cream of such a crop. Only when there's a clear choice (as with vendor-specific programs like those from Cisco, Microsoft, and so forth) or a definite market leader (as with numerous vendor-neutral subjects like A+, Network+ or PMP) is it worthwhile hanging staff development and training solely on certification.
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