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Everyone is talking about how open source technology is the answer to budget cuts and belt tightening in the workplace. There's no denying its use is on the rise and, in fact, the Linux server market is predicted to extend into the tens of billions over the next few years. Clearly IT professionals with Linux skills will continue to be in high demand.

If you want to learn new skills to stay competitive in the IT industry or simply hone the ones you have, take a look at the Linux Foundation Training Program. It's a new series of in-person courses that will be offered in various cities around the U.S. and at Linux Foundation events throughout the year. The Foundation will also customize courses for individual companies.

The Training Program officially launches at the Linux Foundation's Annual Collaboration Summit scheduled next month in San Francisco, California. Initial course offerings include:

· Essential Linux Device Driver Development Skills

· Creating Applications for Linux

· Kernel Debugging and Performance

In a prepared statement, Jim Zemlin, executive director at the Linux Foundation, said, “We’ve received consistent feedback from companies worldwide that the rising number of Linux deployments is putting new demands on a talent pool that needs more Linux-related developers. We believe the Linux Foundation can provide a vendor-neutral forum in which students can learn from the community’s most influential contributors in order to drive their careers in more lucrative directions.”

It's important to note Zemlin says these courses are vendor-neutral. Some open source software vendors already offer training courses but, naturally, they're aimed at specific applications or solutions. Apple and Microsoft offer certification courses, but are, of course, vendor specific.

The courses put together by the Linux Foundation are well-rounded and broad. Based on what I've read about them, it appears the classes give attendees the information they need to make informed decisions about the right solutions specific to their company. Graduates of the Program also get access to the Linux Foundation, "which will provide students with networking resources with the developer and vendor community through a variety of its resources." Sounds like the perfect program for anyone who wants a long-term career in the IT sector.

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