Network & Security Engineer/Auditor/Lead Auditor ISO/IEC at PA Evolution Srl and Validator at Pearson VUE

The aim of this interview is to explore the current European situation on existing innovative and effective VNFIL tools, by collecting qualitative aspects and insights, and to identify the most effective instruments needed to fulfill successful VNFIL.

This report is based on the interview conducted by Sylvia Liuti with Rosella Ventimiglia, Network & Security Engineer and Auditor at PA Evolution Srl and Validator at Pearson VUE.

According to Rosella, the practices that represent the main focus of the PROFI VNFIL project are primarily oriented towards the analysis and validation of the competences. In light of her personal history with Cisco Netacad training, competences and knowledge pass through practical courses that end with an examination.

She is a Cisco trainer since 2000 and in her case, the methodology used, she said, is directly imported from the US and this type of courses (primarily CCNA – Cisco Certified Network Associate and similar) foresees 4 modules, intermediate chapters and, lastly, a final exam. With regards to the intermediate and revision exams, main step of the whole validation process, the key is making it seemingly informal, so that the candidates do not have the impression that they are undergoing an actual exam, but they experiment a mood of “preparation to the Final Exam”. Instead, at the end, the Final Exams is formal, but the candidates at that point have the right knowledge and competence to pass it in a very simply manner. It is important to notice, in addition, that those who cross the threshold of 80% of right answers are awarded with a Certificato di Merito (Certificate of Merit), that brings ECTS credits to the candidates. At the end of the training phase the candidates can undergo Pearson VUE validation and certification. Note that Pearson VUE is a Third Part Validator, maybe the largest validation centers in the world.

According to Ventimiglia, although some exams are structured both as case studies and/or troubleshooting case, those who already attended a specific course are not afraid and, generally, pass the test.

Answering to question 5. – Is the instrument transferable to other sectors? Countries? –  Ventimiglia underlined the possible connections between Pearson VUE validation and certification system and the Institutional (regional) one set up according to European/national Frameworks. In this way the Transparency Document preliminarily filled in according to the Regional identification procedure could serve as a basis to validate non-formal and informal competences, so to provide eventual integrative trainings to fill the gap with Pearson VUE requirements (which are usually those to which ICT companies refer to).

In light of the words spoken by Ventimiglia, there is no main target group: only people with different backgrounds and stories aiming at making their competences recognized and validated. Of course, adds Ventimiglia, special focus is given to the candidates that come from disadvantaged contexts: those people, indeed, are often not aware of what to expect from the validation process and, for this reason, Ventimiglia suggest to use games or simulations so to facilitate the comprehension of the procedure.

In terms of the necessary amount of money, admits Ventimiglia, the process is rather expensive. More in detail, the tariffs for obtaining a certificate range from 100€ for the basic level up to 1,000-1,500 € for the highest ones.

Among the negative aspects of the validation process, Ventimiglia mentions the fact that the recruiters are not always able to “extract” all the competences from each candidate. If this happens, she adds, the whole process cannot be wholly clear and may not reflect the abilities of the candidates.

Alongside, the validation process is also affected at the Regional level. Too often, the information provided at this level are not clear enough and, moreover, the professional roles that should validate and certificate are not always neatly defined. The identification phase foreseen at the beginning of the whole validation process is considered by Ventimiglia the crucial one also to better inform people entering the process. For instance, during formal training activities the learners should be detailly informed about the expected competences at the end of the training process also to be more aware of what they can bring as non-formal/informal learning to the whole process of recognition and validation.

The third and last problem encountered by Ventimiglia is the lack of an “entry threshold”, in terms of the basic competences that candidates should have. In short, this mean that, being the level of candidates’ competences too low, minimum requirements should be introduced in order to proceed with the validation.