Top IT contractor training courses: Brexit Special

In the wake of Brexit-induced economic turbulence, you might be one of the IT contractors we’re seeing seeking calmer waters beyond Europe, writes Ed Jones of Firebrand Training. But where to look and what IT skills to get trained up in?

Non-European countries such as Australia, Singapore and the United States offer a comparative haven of stable economies. They can also boast of well-established demand and culture when it comes to contractors, and so have opportunities across a range of technology disciplines. In contrast, consider developing overseas locations, like South Africa and the Middle East. These both offer lucrative contractor roles often because local talent is lacking when it comes to filling their rapidly expanding industries.

Here, exclusively for ContractorUK, I will reveal the 10 most sought-after training courses IT professionals and hiring managers have expressed interest in, outside of Europe. This ‘Brexit edition’ of IT contractor training courses has been put together using Firebrand’s data, which encompasses interest from more than 130 countries and 290,000 page views across 400 products between Jan 1st 2016 and Jul 31st 2016.

10. Project Management Professional (PMP)®

Project managers continue to experience high global demand, with significant growth in developing countries across the construction and engineering sectors.

Based on PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)®, the PMP credential teaches you the skills and knowledge to manage a project through the lifecycle.

In 10th place, the PMP credential experienced interest from 2430 individuals, representing approximately 0.8% of total interest. Of the interest in PMP, over half of this originated from the United States (US), unsurprising as this is where the PMP credential was created and first established. There was also interest across the Middle East with volume from Saudi Arabia and UAE with 7.2% and 7.6%% respectively.

9. Microsoft Dynamics AX

Microsoft’s flagship ERP platform – Dynamics AX – experienced significant interest from 3,092 individuals, accounting for 1.1% of overall demand over the period.

The interest was spread across the full range of AX 2012 courses, which teaches users to use core functionality across Trade, Logistics, Manufacturing and production features. There was also interest in application development for the platform.

The majority of this interest originates from India, with over 30% of the interest. Again we see interest from the US at 10.3%, with a not insignificant amount from New Zealand (4.3%).

8. Microsoft SQL Server

Among the world’s most popular relational database systems, it’s no surprise to see interest in Microsoft SQL Server courses. Making up 1.1% of overall interest from 3,100 tech professionals, the focus is primarily on the SQL Server 2012 and 2016 platforms.

There appears to be a growing demand for the new MCSA certification courses aligned to SQL Server 2016 across the disciplines of Business Intelligence, Database Administration and Database Development.

A majority of the focus for SQL Server originates from the US (25.2%) and India (20.8%). There’s healthy interest from other predominantly English-speaking countries, notably Australia (7.8%), South Africa (6.9%), New Zealand (6.8%) and Canada (4.4%).

7. Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Microsoft’s ever popular customer relationship management platform, Dynamics CRM, features at number 7 with another 1.1% of the interest from 3,205 individuals.

Much like Dynamics AX, the platform experiences interest across the core features including Marketing, Sales and the deployment of a cloud version. A majority of the demand is focussed on the latest 2016 platform, with interest in the aligned Specialist certifications.

Demand for the CRM courses is predominantly from the US and India with 16.3% and 26.1% respectively. But there’s growing interest from South Africa (4.6%) and even more so, Australia - 13.6%.

6. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

In sixth place, we have the CISM course, commanding interest from 3,357 individuals. This is the first security course that features in this top 10 list; surprising considering the huge demand for cyber security professionals.

Among ISACA’s flagship products, the CISM certification is aimed at individuals responsible for managing, designing, overseeing and/or assessing an enterprise's Information Security (IS). It helps you to develop international best-practice, on top of the skills and knowledge to provide effective security management and consulting services day-to-day.

The CISM credential experiences has significant interest in the Middle East with UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar all featuring within the top 10 interested parties in terms of location. Nigeria also features prominently with 6.2% of the total interest in CISM, but not more so than Ghana, which only this month was enquired about as a destination for UK IT contractors, with an impressive 13% of the interest.

5. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

Coming just in front of its counterpart, CISM, ISACA’s CISA certification has also garnered significant demand throughout non-European countries. The credential received 1.4% of total interest from more than 4,000 individuals.

The CISA certification course teaches information security professionals the skills and knowledge required in IS auditing. It has long been the gold standard required for professionals working across audit control and assurance sectors. With the growing demand for security professionals and the credentials global recognition, it is unsurprising to find it in the top 5.

Like the CISM credential it experiences significant interest from the same locations, including UAE (19.8%), Saudi Arabia (11.8%), Iraq, Qatar and Kuwait. Interest is also echoed from African nations including Ghana (13.1%), Nigeria (10%), South Africa and Kenya.

4. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

Cisco’s entry level networking credential experienced 1.4% of total interest from 4,194 individuals. A majority of the demand (77.3%) focusses on the Routing & Switching specialism – teaching you to install, operate and troubleshoot a small-to-medium enterprise branch networks.

Networking professionals are consistently among the toughest IT talent to find and hire – driving up pay. As such, interest in the CCNA continues to increase annually as more and more professionals seek to enter the industry and fill the void, complimented by the dominance of Cisco technologies in the networking industry.

Interest in the credential was also focussed on additional specialisms including the CCNA Security and newly launched CCNA Cloud.

Looking at regional demand a quarter of this came from the US, but sizeable demand also came from Australia (7.8%), New Zealand (6.8%) and Canada (4.4%).

3. Certified Ethical Hacking (CEH)

One of the most exciting courses in the security field and the first choice of our 2014 winner of IT training for life is the Certified Ethical Hacker. It attracted interest from more than 4,600 individuals. This cyber security credential has long experienced worldwide interest for the skills and knowledge it teaches.

With cyber security a leading concern globally, the demand for professionals with the skills to attack and identify weaknesses in business systems and software has shot up.

The CEH sees a majority of this demand from India with more than 25% of the demand. There is also significant interest in the US with 14.4% and yet more interest from the Middle East (15.1%), ahead of Australia (4.3%).

2. Microsoft Windows Server

Microsoft’s flagship technology, Windows Server, is in second place thanks to interest from almost 5,000 individuals. Almost three quarters of this interest focusses on the upcoming Windows Server 2016 platform. Much of it centres around the MCSA credential with professionals eager to learn the skills to install, configure and administer Windows Server 2016.

The technology featuring in second place is a reflection of Microsoft’s dominance in the Server market. With interest in Windows Server 2012 alone rivalling that of world renowned certifications.

A majority of this interest comes from predominantly English-speaking nations including the US (20.8%), Australia (6.2%) and Canada (3.3%). But there is also a significant and growing demand in Brazil (3.7% of demand), ranking it above Canada.

1. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

And now the big reveal. The most in-demand IT training course from non-European countries in 2016 is (ISC)2’s CISSP certification course. The CISSP is globally recognised as the gold standard cyber security credential. The certification has won multiple awards and is the most requested credential for Certified Information Officer jobs.

Achieving almost double the interest of its closest rival, the CISSP captured the attention of more than 10,000 individuals, with some 10% of this interest falling on the ISSMP and ISSAP specialisations.

The credential teaches information security professionals a broad range skills and knowledge across the 8 security domains contained within (ISC)2’s Common Body of Knowledge – the CISSP CBK. These include - Security and Risk Management; Asset Security, Security Engineering, Communication and Network Security, Identity and Access Management, Security Assessment and Testing, Security Operations and Software Development Security.

Almost half of the interest in CISSP originates from the Middle East, notably the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. But expectantly, it also gets significant interest from the US.

Final takeaways

So there we have it, the top 10 in-demand IT training courses outside Europe. As to the key takeaways for IT contractors, those in the cyber security field look to have the most buoyant conditions. With four of the top 10 courses focussed on this specific discipline, opportunities for security specialists will be abundant. The same can be said for their contract counterparts skilled in Microsoft technologies, given the tangible interest across the flagship Windows and SQL Server platforms.

In terms of locations, the US, Australia and Canada feature regularly and offer the most stable economies, perhaps making them the most inviting. Add to this a predominantly English-speaking population to ease your transition, and the opportunities this trio present look promising. But don’t necessarily rule out the United Arab Emirates, fast-becoming a global technology hub with Dubai at its heart.

Lastly, although we see consistent interest from South Africa, India and many African nations, it’s important to consider currency. These destinations may have a thriving interest in IT, however these countries offer a substantially weaker currency, greatly reducing the comparative earning potential. With any of the potentially exotic locations listed above, and whichever one has the strongest allure, make sure you do your market research before you commit to your chosen course or country. 

Wednesday 24th Aug 2016
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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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