Microsoft creates a new kind of credential: the 'Applied Skill'

Shorter and more specific than certifications, but still tied to Microsoft products. Would you do one?

Poll When The Register writes about vendor certification programs, readers often comment that the credentials aren't worth the pixels they're printed on because they don't reflect real-world skills.

Microsoft appears to agree with that idea, to an extent. On Wednesday it introduced an "Applied Skill" credential that sits alongside its existing certifications. The software giant contrasts certifications and Applied Skills as follows.

Certification Applied Skill
Validates broad technical proficiency Validates one specific skill
Role-based Project-based
Breadth of skills Scenario-specific skills
Exam with interactive elements Assessment via interactive lab experience
Scheduled exam On-demand exam

The first batch of Applied Skills describe hands-on work with Microsoft's enterprise products and services, namely:

  • Secure storage for Azure Files and Azure Blob Storage
  • Configure secure access to your workloads using Azure networking
  • Deploy and configure Azure Monitor
  • Deploy containers by using Azure Kubernetes Service
  • Implement security through a pipeline using Azure DevOps
  • Develop an ASP.NET Core web app that consumes an API
  • Secure Azure services and workloads with Microsoft Defender for Cloud regulatory compliance controls
  • Configure SIEM security operations using Microsoft Sentinel
  • Create and manage automated processes by using Power Automate

Another five are already in the works – covering Azure AI services, the Power Platform, and migrating SQL Server to Azure SQL.

Material for Applied Skills is all online and mixes lengthy text with videos – some of which were prepared as training material for Microsoft's certifications. The Register rummaged through the curricula and found each has between three and seven items of content to ingest, with total run times ranging from a little more than two hours to over seven hours.

Successful completion of "an online, interactive, lab-based assessment that takes you through a series of scenario-based tasks in products like Microsoft Azure or Microsoft Power Platform" is required to win the credential.

Kim Akers, Microsoft's corporate veep for customer and partner solutions enablement and operations, described Applied Skills as "a streamlined path to validate someone's skills." The post announcing the credential describes them as complementary to certifications – because "In today's ever-changing business environment, there are also times when you need verified project-specific skills."

Over to you, dear reader. We've whipped up a poll about Applied Skills, and the comments are open! ®

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