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Oracle is bringing its Competency Center training strategy to the United States, following roll out across Europe earlier this year.

The vendor, which has admitted recently that shipments through the channel are down, said VARs were finding it challenging to locate all the Oracle training available, and the Competency Center brings its educational and training programs under one roof.

The center will sit in the Oracle Partner Network portal and is free for Partner network members, the vendor said. Doug Kennedy, senior vice president of worldwide channel at Oracle, said the center is aimed at individuals within solution providers and is similar to a university-style careers advisory service.

“Within the center there is the Guided Learning Path, which is a tailored training and education schedule for the individual. Some of the courses are at the Oracle university, some are online through the portal and some are in the field. We wanted to make it as self-service as possible,” he said.

Individuals can enter their current skill levels, and learning path advises where the person should pursue further study, which the vendor said saves them the time of searching through hundreds of online courses.

Greg Carlow, managing director of U.K.-based VAR Repton, said he has members of staff using the center. “Previously it was tough to find all the training for Oracle products, and what we needed to get our guys certified on. Now it’s all in one place and more focused,” he said.

“Online training can really work. It saves any of the sales or technical team having to be out [for] whole chunks of the time and it also means they can do it in the evening if they so wish,” he said. “But there are drawbacks to it, too. It means there is no one to ask a question if you need to and it also means that people can go off and learn what they like, get to a certain level and then leave the company.”

Carlow said retaining staff after training was a big issue for the channel.

“Most VARs can’t afford to pay top wages and don’t have a career road map for people,” he said. “But there is not an easy solution to this.”

Kennedy said Oracle will not publicize who the individuals are that are becoming certified, and added that “everyone being after the best engineer is a fact of life. We are making it easier for more people to get better trained.”