What Use Is the e-CF and CPD for the IT Profession?

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Jim Friars, CEO of the Irish Computer Society, gives us insight on the value of the e-CF and CPD for the IT profession.

How has the IT profession changed in the past 15 years?

Simply put, the IT profession has matured, modelled on more traditional professions like engineering, medicine and law. For IT, though, there is no single point of entry (e.g. a degree or an exam). It is far more dynamic and constantly moving.

How do you create a profession from something so diverse?

The solution for us was to view IT as competency-based. We adopted the European e-Competence Framework (e-CF) for this purpose. The framework is an aggregate of all IT professionals’ skills across Europe. This makes it intuitive, adaptive and easy to adopt. Individuals can determine what skills they lack, how to acquire them, and what organisations are looking for them. They can set short-term or long-term goals for their career, and map them out precisely (e.g. reaching a CIO position in 10 years, or improving your design skills). They can track and record their achievements more granularly by using a CPD system.

How does this framework work within organisations?

By using the e-CF, an employer can quickly identify what skills are lacking and fill them proactively. Effective use of IT is facilitated by the timely acquisition of skills with a view creating business value. By employing the right people at the right time, and by maximising their potential through continuous professional development, the organisation and the employee will benefit. Having a real-time skills portfolio on-hand allows a company to align an employee’s personal goals to their long-term business goals and investments (e.g. investment in cloud technologies, VR/ AR, etc.).

Has the e-CF been adopted beyond the traditional IT organisation?

Yes. It is suitable not just for IT departments, but also for IT service providers and educational institutions, recruitment agencies, professional trainers, and other interested parties. If everyone maps the career path of the IT professional in the same way, it will standardise the IT career progression path and help it grow.

How does the ICS CPD system work?

The ICS e-CF tool is an online portal of competencies that allows individuals to manage their Continuous Professional Development (CPD) and career path objectives through targeted skill acquisition. Our CPD system has four categories: Formal, Informal, Non-formal and Contribution. Each time you participate in an activity, you earn points that are a measure of the duration spent and mapped to specific competencies in a particular area. An organisation can track the aggregate of these competencies and match them against strategic objectives for the year. These categories cover everything from formal training to conferences to mentoring and secondment.

Any final thoughts?

The IT profession is growing faster than ever before. More than that, it is establishing its own identity through this competency-based approach. There is still a lot more to do, but a framework like this is a very important step forward. We are excited to see what the future of the IT profession will be!

The original version of this interview was published on TechCentral.ie. You can read the complete article here.