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Wanted: Web professionals

USWeb and San Francisco State University introduce programs that will mold Web professionals.

Lots of companies that have great jobs for Web professionals but don't want publicize them just call Christopher Marler, a program director at San Francisco State University's Multimedia Studies Program.

Why? There are a lot of jobs out there but not enough qualified candidates.

"I get a lot of phone calls saying we don't want to advertise because we get a glut of people who know the rudiments of HTML and nothing else," Marler said.

That's why SF State is launching a new Web development certification program in the fall. And that's also why Web development company USWeb is launching its own program next month to certify Web professionals.

Both Marler and Joe Firmage, president and CEO of USWeb, say they are responding to a need. Firmage describes it as dire.

"The industry growth is constrained severely by a shortage of talent," Firmage said. "That's impacting every company inside this industry as well as every company outside technology that wants to utilize the Internet for the benefit of its company."

While companies such as Microsoft, Netscape Communications, and Novell already offer certificates for people trained using their applications, the USWeb program would encompass all the technologies and would teach students without "trying to shove some product down their throats," Firmage said.

USWeb will be forming partnerships with companies that already offer educational programs, Firmage said. In June it will start with 15 "training centers" throughout the country.

USWeb is targeting IT professionals who are trying to adapt to the rapid move onto the Internet. Students would most likely have a moderate level of skills before they started the program.

At San Francisco State, the program is more general, targeted at everyone from novices to computer professionals who just want more training, Marler said.

But both institutions have the same goal: to prepare the workforce for the future.

Right now, Marler said, "It's very evident there's a need for standards; the quality of work varies so dramatically. The business of development for the Web is very anarchic still. There's a real need to start training."

Firmage added that USWeb is "trying to do what few educational institutions are trying--providing the skills to take businesses into the information age. We want to educate tens of thousands of people over the next three to five years," he said.