The European Commission (EC) recently warned of a potential 350,000-plus shortfall in IT practitioners in the region by 2015 and criticised the UK for failing to adequately promote professionalism in the industry. According to EC principal administrator André Richier, although Europe has approximately four million IT practitioners, 50 per cent are not IT degree qualified.

While the EC raises some interesting points about the education of those entering the field of IT, it’s important not to lose sight of what’s really important – ensuring IT executives are continually improving and developing their skills and capabilities.

Developments in technology are moving faster than ever and bringing about major changes to the lives of IT professionals. Today, for instance, it’s crucial IT professionals are not just technical experts but able to speak the language of business and ensure the work of the IT function is closely aligned to business objectives. This is particularly so when it comes to cloud computing where pressure is mounting for IT teams to clearly articulate the benefits the technology can offer the business.

Business decision makers aren’t interested in the details of cloud computing implementation but do want to know that IT teams understand their situation and are well placed to solve the challenges they face. In short, they want to know important IT decisions being made in their business are in the hands of true professionals.

Certification can act as an important mark of professional standards and inspire confidence by verifying the qualities and skills IT executives have with regards to the effective deployment, implementation and operation of IT solutions. Given the current pressures to do more with less and the rising importance of IT to business, expect to see certification rise in importance in the months ahead.