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Trained to be ready

KEI Pearson delivers technical training and certification, call centers and help desks, and systems integration to network management. The company’s vice president talks about where they’ve been, and where they’re going.

KEI Pearson’s motto is “Supporting the Warfighter,” and the Arlington, Va.-based training company lives up to that credo in more ways than one. Founded in 1989, the company is strongly aligned with the Department of Defense (DoD) thanks to contracts with the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Washington, D.C. area and throughout the nation at a variety of defense installations. KEI Pearson delivers technical training and certification, call centers and help desks, and systems integration to network management, information assurance, business process re-engineering, and logistics. Company Vice President Rory Fisher recently talked about KEI Pearson’s past, present, and future.

Did you work with the Defense Department from the beginning?

Yes. KEI’s first contract was with the Department of the Army in 1989, providing training services to the U.S. Army Information Management Center (IMCEN) in the Pentagon. Since then, our clientele has expanded to include all aspects of the Department of Defense as well as many other federal government agencies.

When and why did you branch out from providing training for the DoD to offering training in the civilian sector?

We expanded our training offerings fairly early to the public sector. We determined early in the 1990s that many of the IT and help desk support positions at our DoD and other federal agency clients were being outsourced to the civilian sector. To compete for these outsourcing contracts, it became crucial for the civilian sector companies to employ IT staff that had technical expertise.

We learned that quite often the only way to validate the knowledge of these employees was through various technical certifications. This realization led directly to a demand for IT technical training. This trend, to demand an increasingly technically trained and certified workforce, continued to grow with the technology boom in the late ’90s.

One of your main areas is providing Microsoft Certification training. What other types of IT training do you offer?

We offer a full array of technical and soft skills training to complement the Microsoft certifications. We are a Microsoft Gold Partner and last year we were recognized by Microsoft as being the No. 1 technical training center in terms of customer satisfaction in the entire nation.

A sample of some of the other areas in which we provide training include Cisco, CompTIA, Macromedia, end-user, security, telecom, and autoCAD. However, one of the areas in which we are seeing an increasingly strong demand for technical training right now is in our private classes.

Many clients prefer to have all of their staff trained on the same technology at the same time.

We can also save time by tailoring the class to fit the individual clients’ needs. Many of our large Federal government agency clients have used us to deliver onsite private classes to help with their end-user migration training.

We provide a wide variety of learning solutions to rapidly deploy the necessary training to large groups. Recently, we trained over 800 people at the Department of Justice when they moved to Microsoft Office XP by combining a solution of private classes, refresher training, and one-on-one training for executives.

Which of the training tracks you offer is most popular right now?

We are seeing a huge demand for Microsoft Windows Server 2003 training. Many clients, including a large portion of the Federal government, didn’t upgrade from NT 4.0 to Windows Server 2000 and are now taking the plunge for Windows Server 2003. So it is a good time for people to get their MCSE 2003 certification.

Another popular certification is a new one that Microsoft introduced in January, the MCDST Microsoft Desktop Support Technician. This certification is an entry-level certification specifically designed for troubleshooting the Microsoft operating system.

It is hot for several reasons. Employers like it because it is only one week out of the office and it improves the quality of support their technicians can provide. In a high-turnover position such as help desk technician, it helps to reduce turnover. Employees like it because it validates their skills and it is a starting point to go on to obtain even more technical certifications such as the MCSA and the MCSE.

What kind of placement rate do you have for your various certification tracks?

Although we do not track placement rates for our certified students, it’s safe to say that we are seeing a new resurgence into their value in terms of job placements. As the employment market changed, certifications provided a way for recruiters to be able to validate skill sets and be able to screen out large volumes of résumés for technical jobs.

We are also finding that new federal and state government standards are requiring that IT professionals be certified. We believe this new mandate will create a demand for employees that are already certified similar to the demand for professionals with security clearance.

You currently have just the one location in Arlington. Do you have any plans to expand to other locations?

We are looking at various expansion opportunities. In the short run, we’re concentrating on expanding through our offering of customized learning solutions at our client’s site. We have several Air Force and Army installations where this solution has worked particularly well for our clients, and where we are able to provide continuous training support onsite.

What else does KEI Pearson have coming up?

Our newest venture includes the assimilation of RRTC’s autoCAD business. We have also been selected by Cramer Systems as their training partner. We will provide end-user and developer training worldwide to tier-one telecommunications companies, as well as the major Cramer Systems integration partners, including CGI, IBM, Accenture, and HP.

Public classes will be available from our Arlington ATC as well as in Europe. Additionally we will be performing consulting services to assist Cramer Systems in deploying the world leading operational support system (OSS) software.

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