RPG Certification And College Curriculum Revision In The Works
December 1, 2014 Dan Burger
COMMON is beginning work on a new RPG certification for college graduates that IBM i shops can use as a yardstick for entry-level talent. The RPG Associate certification is expected to be ready by the next COMMON Annual Meeting (April 26-29 in Anaheim, California).
COMMON Certification Steering Committee chairman Randy Dufault explained that the certification will be developed in conjunction with a revised RPG curriculum for colleges participating in the IBM Power Systems Academic Initiative program. The existing RPG curriculum is badly in need of replacement. The most prominent schools teaching RPG are not using the outdated curriculum, which does not include modern RPG enhancements since the introduction of the IBM i 6.1, 7.1, and 7.2 versions of the operating system.
Jim Buck, the leading advocate for upgrading IBM i education at the collegiate level, is heading up the Academic Initiative curriculum development and is also part of the COMMON committee organizing the certification. Buck co-authored a book titled Programming in RPG IV that will serve as the foundation for the new curriculum. Bryan Meyers is the second author on that book.
It was recently revised and updated and includes programming examples and support material. The book itself, however, will not be part of the package the Academic Initiative provides free to college instructors.
“The schools that are part of the Academic Initiative need something like this,” Dufault said in an interview with IT Jungle before Thanksgiving. “We are creating a credential for students leaving a college program that demonstrates an appropriate and expected level of RPG knowledge for someone beginning a career. The certification test will be a match for the new curriculum.”
The revised curriculum is seen as a key piece in getting more schools to teach RPG and IBM i topics. Dufault believes the combination of the updated curriculum and the associated certification a recognized credential brings IBM i education in line with the expectations of colleges, students, and companies that are hiring young talent.
In writing the curriculum, Buck plans to include ancillary materials such as Power Point presentations, solutions to exercises, and pre-made tests.
“The schools will have the option of using the RPG Associate Certification as part of the curriculum, but the feedback I’ve heard from the schools is that this is absolutely necessary,” Dufault says. “Other IT programs that schools are offering–like Microsoft technologies, for instance–have a certification at the end. Certification is seen as a necessary part of a college IT program, even though it can’t be required to be part of the program because there is a cost associated with the test.”
The certification will be part of the curriculum that the Academic Initiative makes available.
A certification committee will be made up of seven to nine subject matter experts. Dufault described it as “a well-defined process.”
COMMON currently has a Certified Application Developer–ILE RPG exam that was created for experienced and capable RPG developers with experience in the field.
Other COMMON certifications include the COMMON Business Computing Associate and COMMON Certified Business Computing Professional credentials.
The programs were designed to measure and validate an individual’s effectiveness in delivering computing solutions that solve business problems.