LearnKey Blog

Do Certifications Still Matter In a Post-Pandemic World?

Certified Image

In a word, yes. Though technology and markets have changed, and attitudes toward working at home vs. working in an office vs. working on an island with a satellite… OK, I’m getting carried away here, but certifications still matter. Our CEO, Jeff Coruccini, outlined this in a blog post at the beginning of the year, but let me add some statistics here about certifications themselves:

According to CompTIA, the certification body for A+, Network+, and Security+, three industry-leading certifications, 96 percent of human resource managers use IT certifications as part of the screening process for candidates. 96 percent; that’s 24 out of every 25 human resource managers. According to Coursera, 59 percent of cybersecurity jobs require at least one related certification.

But lest you think these percentages are limited to IT jobs, consider this. According to Indeed, 62 percent of those surveyed for QuickBooks positions indicated they got a higher starting salary because they obtained a QuickBooks certification. And let me share a personal anecdote. My first IT training full-time position was at a hospital. I had Microsoft Office Suite (MOS) certifications; those certifications put me at the high end of the starting salary range, a full 25% higher than if I had not obtained those certifications.

Certifications are more than proof that one has expertise in the certification earned. They also prove several characteristics that make for an outstanding employee:

  • A willingness to learn, often in a very compact amount of time
  • The ability to study and research
  • The fortitude to finish a project from start to finish
  • The ability to succeed on a task after not succeeding. In this context, that would mean retaking an exam if one does not pass on the first attempt (it happens to the best of us)

So, which IT certifications are most important for those starting an IT career? This article from Coursera lists the top 10 IT certifications in 2023, and we have courses for six of the top seven certifications on the list. If you are looking at an IT career path and have not started the journey of obtaining any certifications, consider this an invitation to do so. I’ll be rooting for your success down your chosen path.

Unlocking Your Future: ACE College Credits and Certification Programs

In today’s fast-paced world, education is more than just a means to an end; it’s a pathway to success and personal growth. At LearnKey, we take this very seriously. As the landscape of education evolves, innovative solutions emerge to bridge the gap between real-world skills and academic achievement. ACE College Credits, a pioneering initiative, is transforming the way students approach higher education by offering a unique opportunity to gain college credits through certification programs. Let’s explore how this program can pave the way for students to accelerate their educational journey and open doors to exciting new possibilities.

The Power of Certification Programs:
Certification programs have gained immense popularity in recent years due to their practical approach to skill development. These programs, often endorsed by industry leaders, provide students with specialized expertise that can be directly applied in the workforce. From IT certifications to healthcare credentials, these programs offer a convenient and focused way to enhance one’s skill set. But what if these certifications could also contribute to your college education?

Enter ACE College Credits:
This innovative program partners with various certification providers, such as our partner Certiport, to evaluate and recommend college credit for completed certifications. Imagine the satisfaction of knowing that the hard work you put into acquiring a valuable certification not only boosts your employability but also contributes to your college journey.

1. **Accelerated Degree Completion**: One of the primary advantages of ACE College Credits is its potential to expedite your degree completion. By earning college credits through certification programs, you can significantly reduce the time it takes to earn a degree, saving both time and money.

2. **Enhanced Employability**: Combining academic knowledge with practical skills gained from certifications makes you a well-rounded and attractive candidate in the job market. Employers value candidates who possess both theoretical understanding and hands-on experience.

3. **Flexibility and Customization**: ACE College Credits provide flexibility, allowing you to tailor your educational journey to align with your interests and career goals. You can choose certifications that resonate with your aspirations, creating a unique blend of expertise.

4. **Transferrable Credits**: Many colleges and universities recognize the value of certifications and accept ACE-recommended credits, allowing you to seamlessly transfer your hard-earned credentials.

5. **Cost-Efficiency**: College education can be expensive, but by utilizing this program, you can potentially reduce the overall cost of your degree. With every earned credit, you inch closer to your degree without additional tuition expenses.

In a world where adaptability and skills are prized, ACE College Credits offer a bridge between the dynamic demands of the job market and the structured realm of academia. By recognizing the value of certification programs, students take charge of their education and pave the way for a brighter future. Whether you’re a recent high school graduate, a working professional, or someone seeking a career change, ACE College Credits can be your key to unlocking a world of opportunities. Embrace this innovative approach, earn credits for your certifications, and embark on a journey that’s uniquely tailored to your aspirations. Your dreams are within reach – take the first step today.

Note: The process for transferring ACE Credits to a college or university differs for each institution; the first step in the process is to get a copy of your transcript.

The next step is to find the college’s transfer credit policies and procedures. Check the college’s catalog or website for “academic policies and procedures” or “transfer credit.” Once you know the correct policies and procedures, complete the process. If you are unable to locate the policies, give the school a call.

LearnKey neither guarantees nor implies that other institutions will accept credit hours or previous training earned at the school. A student who anticipates transferring to another institution should first contact the other institution to determine whether their credit hours or previous training will transfer. Policies governing the transferability of credits vary greatly from school to school.

Benefits of Building Self-Trust and Credibility

In today’s world, engaging with team members effectively, including who you report to, who reports to you, and those you interact with daily, is a key component of your success. It also plays a key role in your personal life.

Do you struggle with imposter syndrome, second-guessing your decisions, or having difficulty building trusting relationships with others? If so, you may be experiencing a lack of self-trust, which can significantly impact your personal and professional life.

As part of our Leadership Development Series, we have just released a course we produced on Building Self-Trust and Credibility. You will learn to become a more confident and trustworthy leader. Some of the key benefits in honing your skills in this area include:

  1. Confidence and Self-Esteem: When you trust yourself and have a strong sense of credibility, your self-confidence and self-esteem naturally improve. You believe in your abilities, which enables you to tackle challenges and take risks with a positive outlook.
  2. Resilience: Self-trust and credibility act as a buffer during difficult times. When you trust yourself, you are better equipped to bounce back from setbacks and failures. This resilience helps you maintain a growth mindset and keep pushing forward.
  3. Positive Relationships: Trust is a fundamental aspect of any relationship, and that includes the relationship you have with yourself. By building self-trust and credibility, you cultivate a healthier self-relationship, which can positively impact your relationships with others as well.
  4. Effective Decision-Making: Trusting yourself means having faith in your judgment and decision-making abilities. This translates to more efficient and effective decision-making, as you are less likely to second-guess yourself or be paralyzed by doubt.
  5. Increased Motivation: When you have self-trust and credibility, you are more motivated to pursue your goals and aspirations. You believe that your efforts will yield results, leading to increased motivation and productivity.
  6. Enhanced Leadership: In professional settings, building credibility is vital for effective leadership. Trustworthy leaders inspire confidence and loyalty in their teams, fostering a positive work environment and improving overall team performance.
  7. Authenticity: Self-trust allows you to be more authentic and true to yourself. You can make decisions that align with your values and principles, leading to a more fulfilling and purpose-driven life.
  8. Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Doubting oneself constantly can lead to high stress and anxiety levels. Building self-trust and credibility can reduce these negative emotions, promoting better mental and emotional well-being.
  9. Professional Growth: Credibility is essential for career advancement. When you are seen as trustworthy and reliable in your professional life, you are more likely to be given important responsibilities and opportunities for growth.
  10. Enhanced Communication: Trustworthiness is a critical component of effective communication. When you have credibility, people are more likely to listen to you, take your opinions seriously, and engage in meaningful dialogue.

Remember, building self-trust and credibility is an ongoing process. We break it down into three critical areas to support the above: Strengthening self-trust, Establishing credibility, and Developing trusting relationships.

The benefits of cultivating these traits can have a profound and positive impact on various aspects of your life.

Are you engaged in your job?

Success is a journey that varies for each individual, shaped by unique experiences, aspirations, and the personal drive to accomplish goals. While success may have different meanings to different people, the fundamental elements that contribute to achieving it remain universal. At LearnKey lifelong learning is something we strive to deliver with every course we create.

Many studies have shown that when people have a better self-understanding of what matters to them, they can bring their best skills and talents to their work and find more enjoyment with others at work. Employees who feel connected to their organization work harder, stay longer, and motivate others to do the same. LearnKey’s My Success Drivers course, will teach you your success drivers and how to use them effectively. Here are four (4) key points to consider when you successfully leverage your talents into your career:

    1. Increased Engagement and Job Satisfaction:
      • According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, employees who are engaged and enjoy their work are more likely to be productive and loyal to their organizations.
      • A study published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior found that when individuals use their strengths at work, they experience higher levels of job satisfaction and engagement.
    2. Enhanced Performance and Productivity:
      • Research conducted by the Corporate Leadership Council revealed that employees who can utilize their strengths at work are on average 8% more productive than their peers.
      • A meta-analysis published in the journal Psychological Bulletin concluded that individuals who can apply their strengths in the workplace perform better and achieve higher levels of productivity.
    3. Improved Team Collaboration and Innovation:
      • A study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group and the Network for Executive Women found that diverse teams with inclusive cultures outperform their peers in innovation and overall performance.
      • The Harvard Business Review reported that when team members appreciate and utilize each other’s strengths, there is an increase in collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving abilities.
    4. Positive Work Relationships and Well-being:
      • A study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that positive social connections and friendships at work contribute to higher levels of job satisfaction and overall well-being.
      • Research by the University of Warwick’s Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy showed that happiness leads to a 12% increase in productivity, while unhappy workers are 10% less productive.

These findings suggest that when individuals bring their best skills and talents to their work and find enjoyment with others, it can lead to increased engagement, job satisfaction, performance, collaboration, and overall well-being. These trends demonstrate the positive impact of leveraging strengths and cultivating positive relationships in the workplace.


Improve employee engagement through delivering constructive feedback

We have kicked off our Leadership Development Series, releasing our first course on delivering constructive feedback that teaches you to set the stage, check yourself, and follow the process for the best outcome.

In any professional or personal relationship, effective communication plays a pivotal role. A crucial aspect of communication is the ability to deliver constructive feedback, which can help individuals grow and improve. However, delivering feedback can be a challenging task that requires finesse, tact, and empathy. Take into consideration that:

  • 65% of employees want more feedback than they are currently receiving. (Source: Harvard Business Review)
  • Employees who receive regular feedback feel more engaged at work and are 3.5 times more likely to be engaged than those who don’t receive feedback. (Source: Forbes)
  • 92% of employees believe that negative feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance. (Source: Zenger Folkman)
  • 57% of employees prefer corrective feedback over praise or recognition. (Source: Harvard Business Review)
  • Companies that implement regular feedback have turnover rates that are 14.9% lower than for employees who receive no feedback. (Source: Gallup)

That is why we created a course you can complete that helps you avoid these obstacles. Emotional reactions – one of the primary challenges of delivering constructive feedback is managing emotional reactions. Receiving criticism, even when well-intended, can evoke defensive responses, anxiety, or even hostility. To address this challenge, it is essential to approach the conversation with empathy and understanding. Begin by acknowledging the person’s emotions and creating a safe environment for open dialogue. Encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings, and be prepared to listen actively without judgment. Make sure you balance honesty and diplomacy; balancing honesty and diplomacy is another hurdle. While it is crucial to provide honest and direct feedback, it is equally important to consider the recipient’s feelings and maintain a respectful tone. Strive to frame your feedback in a constructive manner, focusing on specific behaviors or outcomes rather than attacking the individual’s character. By choosing your words thoughtfully and offering suggestions for improvement, you can maintain a healthy balance between honesty and diplomacy.

Finally, the timing and context in which feedback is delivered can significantly impact its effectiveness. Providing feedback immediately after a mistake or during a highly stressful situation may exacerbate emotions and hinder receptiveness. Conversely, delivering feedback too long after the incident may result in diminished impact or a loss of relevance. Optimal timing involves finding a balance between addressing the issue promptly while ensuring the recipient is in a receptive mindset, usually within seven (7) days. Select an appropriate setting that promotes privacy and minimizes distractions, creating a conducive environment for open dialogue.

Delivering constructive feedback is a complex art that requires tact, empathy, and effective communication skills. While challenges may arise, approaching feedback conversations with sensitivity and a focus on growth can foster a positive environment for development. Our course on delivering constructive feedback is geared toward a positive outcome that will inspire positive change and pave the way for personal and professional advancement.

Protect Yourself Online

Evolving Threats

Cybersecurity threats are ever-growing! I for one am not the most up-to-date on what is happening and how I can protect myself. With the rise of hackers, we need to educate ourselves on how to protect our information! I was able to take a short cybersecurity course with a coworker recently and learned how to do just that! And MAN, I have learned that even the simplest things that I was doing were putting myself and others at risk! I wanted to share what I learned from this course.

Protect Yourself When You Leave

By understanding how hackers can get my information I am able to better protect myself, my family, and my coworkers. Work is a place where I have grown comfortable enough around the people I am with that I HARDLY ever lock my computer when I leave my desk to go grab something from the print, refill my water bottle, or run to lunch. Well…that is a big mistake! The idea is that if you don’t lock your work computer when it’s unattended, a hacker is going to stroll up to it, sit down, install some malicious code or swipe some important files, then sneak back out before anyone’s the wiser may seem like something out of a movie but it’s a more common threat than you think. As an employee, you have access to your organization’s data and network. That access alone is something that is valuable to hackers – “access” to company networks and results in the loss of sensitive data, and sometimes financial loss. Even if it’s to walk 10 steps away, take the extra second to lock that computer of yours.

Stay in the Know

Cyber threats are constantly happening around you and the hackers keep getting better and better every passing second. It’s important for us to stay up to date on the latest trends and tactics that are being used. By educating ourselves we can stay ahead of these attacks and threats and protect ourselves and others around us.

LearnKey’s Cybersecurity: Protecting Yourself and Your Organization

This course simplifies what individuals and organizations must do to protect digital assets. Topics include: protecting email, protecting information, protecting devices, physical security, and working remotely.

Learning Online With ChatGPT

A young man learning online.

Just like everyone else I am fascinated with learning about ChatGPT and how it can enhance the learning experience. So, in order for me to get a young person’s opinion I recruited my seventeen (17) year old nephew Trevor, a senior in high school, to do some research. He is a smart kid, and I knew he would give me his honest assessment, which he did. What was interesting is this quote from him which really make me think hard and serious about what this could mean:

“I really like ChatGPT. It can answer many questions for me that would take a long time to find on Google. It can also write an essay for me and give me inspiration for my own essay. But ChatGPT is also a little scary. I bet that a lot of its functions are not yet shown to the public, and it can probably do some scary things. This might involve stealing private information from you or helping ad companies market to you in the most efficient way possible. ChatGPT may also take away jobs from people, and that is usually a negative outcome caused by these inventions.”

Take away jobs? Could it? So my thoughts were, what if I asked ChatGPT to write something about our company, LearnKey? Such as a description of LearnKey and the benefits of video-based training vs. other online learning platforms. I was amazed what it returned to me in less than one minute:

“LearnKey is a platform that offers a variety of courses and training programs designed to help individuals develop their skills and advance their careers. Some of the benefits of using LearnKey online video-based training courses include:
1. Convenient Access: LearnKey courses are available online 24/7, making it easy for learners to access the content from anywhere at any time if they have an internet connection.
2. Interactive Learning: Through the use of interactive videos, practice exercises, quizzes, and other tools to engage learners and make the learning experience more effective.
3. Comprehensive Content: Which covers a wide range of topics and skills, including IT, business, management, and professional development. This means learners can find the courses that best suit their needs and interests.
4. Flexible Learning Paths: They offer flexible learning paths, allowing learners to customize their learning journey according to their goals, interests, and learning style.
5. Certification Preparation: LearnKey courses are designed to help learners prepare for industry-recognized certifications, such as CompTIA, Microsoft, and Cisco.
6. Cost-Effective: They are often more cost-effective than traditional classroom-based training, making it a more affordable option for individuals and organizations.
7. Continuing Education: Courses can be used for continuing education credits or professional development units (PDUs) for maintaining professional certifications or licenses.

What benefits do video-based training courses have over the competition? Many:

1. Retention rates: Studies have shown that learners retain 65% more information when they learn through video compared to traditional classroom training. (Source: Forbes)
2. Engagement: Video-based training courses increase learner engagement. According to a survey, 98% of learners said they would be more likely to complete an online course if it included video content. (Source: Kaltura)
3. Learning speed: Learners can learn faster through video-based training. Studies have shown that learners can process visual information 60,000 times faster than text. (Source: 3M Corporation)
4. Convenience: According to a survey, 67% of learners say that video-based training allows them to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule. (Source: Panopto)
5. Cost savings: Video-based training can be more cost-effective than traditional classroom training. According to a study, companies can save up to 50% on training costs by using online training courses. (Source: ATD)
6. Accessible: Video-based training is accessible to a wider range of learners. According to a survey, 62% of learners prefer to learn through video because it is more accessible to them. (Source: Kaltura)”

My next step was passing along this information to my peers at LearnKey to get their thoughts. So I passed it along, telling them that I put this together in about an hour’s time. They all thought it was spot on and were blown away when I told them this took less than one minute to capture.

My immediate reaction is it appears ChatGPT and AI tools like this are going to be able to provide researchers with a faster way to gather data. However, it will take human resources and intervention to ensure the information is accurate. There will be many more instances of learning how to utilize these tools to enhance the learning experience, and so far I am impressed but will proceed with caution.

Free Talent Assessment: Leveraging behavioral strengths in the learning & career exploration process

People ask me all the time about career assessments and their importance for students who want to explore career options. My response is simple: “Teach someone their natural talents & strengths first.” That is right, let them learn about their natural strengths and how to leverage those for both personal and professional growth, which can enhance the career exploration process.

Are they outgoing? If they are, how do they leverage that? What about “blind spots” that could cause their extroversion to hinder them or how they show up to others? A blind spot might be that being outgoing is awesome, however, maybe sometimes they can be too talkative and hinder others’ opinions. Same can be said for introverted people who have a hard time saying no and speaking up.

These behaviors are going to show up which, is why we have just launched a great course on discovering one’s strengths for career exploration. This course addresses this and much more.

Additionally, we have our own free talent assessment for learners which takes less than 5 minutes and provides them with a high-level description based on their responses. Best of all, its free!

These are learning systems to help those through the learning process, and can play a big role in online learning as well. For example: someone who is more process oriented is probably going to have an easier time with online learning vs. someone who is extroverted. Don’t get me wrong, extroverts can be successful, however they may want more “touch points” by way of instructors, counselors, and tutoring sessions along the way.

Alert: Not all knowledge comes from college

As 2023 kicks off now more than ever (Note: CBS did a national story) we are seeing the growth of micro-credentials and globally recognized industry certifications. Take for example among the key survey findings for students, summarized in a Coursera blog by Scott Shireman, the company’s Global Head for Campus:

  • Students across the globe believe industry micro-credentials make them more employable – 89% agree or strongly agree that earning an entry-level professional certificate will help them stand out to employers and secure jobs after they graduate.
  • Including professional certificates in an academic program makes students, on average, 75% more likely to enroll in that program.
  • Among the U. S students surveyed, 81% believed that micro-credentials would help them succeed in their job, and 74% said the presence of relevant micro-credentials would influence their choice of a degree program at their university.

Almost four (4) years ago I blogged on the importance of these credentials and there demand continues to grow. As the economy “cools” and organizations look to Artificial Intelligence (AI) make sure you continue to gain important digital & customer/human skills so you stand out.

Positivity & Respect core ingredients to the fabric of our culture

For over four (4) years I have sent daily (well almost daily) quotes to our LearnKey team members around positivity and respect. It was something to help me through whatever I was going through and then just started sharing with everyone because they were helping me feel better.

Then I realized these really were important to our company, especially with over 90% of our teams working remotely. It was a way to connect and reinforce behaviors we have come to like. In my previous blog around culture this was another tool to help us all in building respect in a positive way.

It was also surprising that these quotes would also be great rallying resources especially during one on one’s or team interactions. Just a good reminder of how beneficial it can be to spread positive thoughts. So today I thought it would be fun to go back just a couple years and revisit some of these:

Monday 7/27/2000, “When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you. “- Lao-Tzu

Friday 12/20/2019, “If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are.”- John W. Gardner

Friday 1/24/2020, “Positivity is contagious so share it with everyone because it costs nothing.”-JLC

Wednesday 2/19/2020, “Respect peoples time, if you want your time to be respected.” – the peacemaker

As the holidays come and go this season maybe this will shed some positivity on you and also be a reminder of how important it is to keep a positive attitude and one that really shows others the importance of respect. Sometimes it appears like we are not doing that and my hope is like anything else in life some self-reflection on what we have is always better then, focusing on what we don’t have. Words I try to live by in my life.