Glut of .Net courses for newbies, techs not so lucky

IT workers considering introductory .Net training this year will be spoiled for choice, but those looking for advanced courses may have to look harder, according to national training providers.

Even some Microsoft Certified Technical Education Centres (soon to be Certified Partner Learning Solutions), with the official Microsoft curriculum, have adapted their introductory courses to what they believe .Net aspirants should learn first.

While .Net training is no longer new, it's still not feasible to run many advanced .Net courses, according to trainers.

"We do a lot of basic .Net and VB.Net courses," said Aspect Education Services' Doug O'Hara.

Aspect offers a number of introductory courses, but "We've [also] created a custom introduction to .Net, a one dayer, which is an overview from a developer," O'Hara said.

The same applies at Dimension Data Learning Solutions (DDLS), where the number of .Net newbies has led to a focused few courses, rather than a wide scope.

"We created our own part at the start of our Developer Readiness course," said DDLS Microsoft product manager Adrian Coupe.

"So we created a .Net certification track, from the introductory [.Net] course to MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solution Developer), which is 15 days. It's been our most popular [developer] course," he said. "The sorts of people we're getting are the old warhorses, people who've used VB 6 for a while."

"Web development type .Net courses are popular. Things with XML and ASP," said Excom Education branch manager Graeme Newey.

As the average .Net starter course attracts around six people, some trainers have had to guarantee advanced courses will run in order to attract experienced .Net developers.

This has also led trainers to stage many advanced .Net courses via e-learning.

DDLS has only recently seen a rise in .Net training attendance.

"It's taken a long time for people to realise its power," Coupe said.

"For business people it's only been in the last six months where we've seen an increase." During this time DDLS added a couple of .Net courses to its schedule as a response to demand.

This delayed demand might be attributed to most IT workers underestimating the complexity of .Net, Aspect's O'Hara said.

"People don't appreciate the amount of learning effort .Net requires," he said.

"We were at one stage very critical of the fast [learning] approach...You need time in between courses to put things into practice."

This has been mirrored in the business world, he said.

"The other thing that drives this technology is the scope of projects available. The number of new projects requiring [.Net] skills in the last year has been few.

"For example Westpac had a raft of .Net projects last year, but it narrowed them down.

"There was a significant NSW government department, which I'd prefer not to name, that started a .Net project and assigned two graduate .Net programmers to the job. Things dragged on and we ended up having to help them for over a year. We had to assign an instructor to the job."

Accordingly, trainers find .Net students are not as keen on certification as colleagues in other areas of IT.

Although not a certified trainer, Object Training holds .Net courses in almost all major cities every month.

"We're less focused on just getting you accredited," chief operating officer Julian Edwards said. Students can use Microsoft accreditation materials alongside course materials, but Object's courses focus mostly on .Net with C#, and less Visual Basic.

"Developers seem less focused on courses as opposed to gaining skills," DDLS' Coupe said, adding disagrees with the view that the scope of .Net work had declined.

"It's gaining critical mass. People are thinking in .Net now.

"I think there are a lot of projects out there; it's just that they tend to be incredibly large, and you don't hear about them because they're behind the scenes at banks and financial services companies."

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