Catching up with New Horizons Computer Learning Centers of Southern California

Based in Southern California, with five offices in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and San Bernardino counties, New Horizons Computer Learning Centers of Southern California was recently named Red Hat Training’s Ready Partner of the Year at the annual Red Hat Training Partner Conference in Las Vegas, NV. As part of the world’s largest independent IT training company, New Horizons Computer Learning Centers of Southern California is a learning solutions provider for the industry’s top vendors, and has been a Red Hat Training Partner since 2010. We recently caught up with New Horizons Computer learning Centers of Southern California’s CEO, Kevin Landry, for his thoughts regarding the state of the training industry today and how it will change tomorrow.

Who are you training these days?
The market we’re in is a little bit unique. 70% of our business is considered B2B or enterprise business, companies like Disney, Southern California Edison, and Ingram Micro. Working with Red Hat over the past several years, we’ve continually seen this business double year after year. Developers in training is the largest growth area, but the greatest area of interest we’ve seen increase has been in the consumer market, where individuals fund their own training. I’d say 30% of the individuals that we train fall into this latter group, and are funding training on their own or have alternative government funding, such as VA benefits or unemployment benefits.

What are the most common reasons people are getting trained right now?
Skill shortage is the main reason that individuals are seeking training, and being that it’s more likely these days to see Linux or Red Hat in a job description, we’ve seen a lot of growth in consumers seeking Red Hat Certifications.

Continuing with the trend you’re talking about, what percent of your students are actively pursuing certifications?
For us, and for Red Hat specifically, close to 100% of our students are going for certifications. This provides them with a competitive advantage in the workforce and highlights their knowledge as experts in their respective training area.

What do certifications today mean for career advancement and professional development?
We’re seeing more and more certification customers than we did 7 or 8 years ago. In the job market right now, certifications generally mean more opportunities for career advancement. Companies, especially in the IT industry, are looking for those people that have the necessary certification and experience. They want to see that piece of paper as validation. Getting certified verifies for companies that their employees have the knowledge base. Companies today are listing certifications as basic job requirements for new positions.

What skills are most critical to learn today? What types of courses are in the most demand?
What we see required in our world is a good broad-based foundation. Companies today are looking for people with a broad base of IT knowledge, experience, and communication skills; whether it’s on the network side, the security side, or developers. They’re looking for people with well-rounded skills. It’s really about getting a solutions-driven education.

Working with multiple vendors, how do you make sure you’re up to speed on everyone’s offerings?
One of things we do to prepare is work with vendors, such as Red Hat, to identify what exists today so we can give our team a big broad stroke of the product line. We get them either certified on the products or sales certified so we are ready for any changes or any questions or any opportunities. This makes our sales team a more knowledgeable resource for their clients.

How is cloud computing changing the way you operate and what you offer?
Cloud computing is a big buzzword right now in business and there’s been a lot of talk about it. Cloud-based communications are continually increasing and along with this so are the security demands. As people are becoming increasingly more conscious about security, there’s been a huge increase in demand for security training. It’s really about what people are going to do with the cloud and how committed they’re going to be towards it. I think there are a lot of companies right now trying to wrap their heads around that – what are the implications, what are the costs, what are the risks?

Are there other technology areas that might be up-and-coming people should be paying attention?
One of the trends we’ve seen around training has been mobility and an emphasis on bringing your own devices to the training class. I’d say mobility and security would be the biggest areas, especially when it comes to training.

What are some of the challenges with mobility?
With mobility, there’s a device challenge, especially standardization amongst platforms. Various devices can be a problem for that person, and we have to make sure that they have the ability to get their class delivered across multiple platforms.

What other training trends do you see developing or changing in the next year or two?
It’s important to offer customers what they want. We’ve had success with dual-modality training, and it actually gets a higher score than just traditional instructor-led training or remote training. We have the ability to put people in a live classroom with an instructor in front of them, and at the same time also broadcast to people who are remote. It’s definitely a challenge for instructors, but it’s an interesting dichotomy because those students that are remote are actually in a live environment. We definitely see a change to a lesser classroom footprint, but it calls for a much more dynamic delivery model.

To learn more about New Horizons Computer Learning Centers of Southern California, visit them at http://www.nhsocal.com/ or give them a call at 888-825-6684.

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