Now SFIA heads east

The Skills Framework for the Information Age is making its presence felt around the world, from Europe to China. 

Uptake of the ICT skills reference isn't just limited to the UK. At the London SFIA conference last year, a Polish delegate lamented practical difficulties of using English language SFIA with her software engineers. A Japanese language version is already available, and Cornerstone International of Dublin have (under licence) translated SFIA into Chinese. 

A quick look at China provides a glimpse of a significant level of interest. There is a government-sponsored programme in Jiangsu province and Cornerstone International have made presentations in other major Chinese cities.

"We are the only accredited organisation delivering IDCL (international version of the European Computer Driving Licence) training and courseware to the current syllabus in China," says Kraken Yu, director of Cornerstone, who have also developed a SFIA-mapped course aimed at the Chinese market.

Sino International Software Engineering (SISE) is an advanced software engineering course with methodology and project management. It is certified by the Irish Computer Society SkillsCert Programme, and also references CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) certification
that is managed by Carnegie Melon. All this firmly emphasises skills, not 'just' knowledge, taken forward over a number of years with firm support from European
and Chinese teams.

Outsourcing companies could use CMMI to demonstrate software development and business process improvement and integration.

Adding SFIA to manage and demonstrate individual skills is perhaps another way for a relatively-fledgling industry in China to develop itself in potential European Markets.

The European Union is meanwhile working towards a Europe-wide e-Competence Framework to open up ICT opportunities and markets across Europe, promoting mobility and access. CEN/ISSS - the name for European standardisation ICT sector activities - is co-funded by the European Commission, and driven by ICT vendors and users.

The resulting framework, developed by an expert working group, aims to be independent of national frameworks such as SFIA, AITTS (Germany), CIGREF (France), and organisational frameworks already established in larger employers.

"The 2-D matrix is scheduled for autumn 2008," explains CEN/ISSS workshop chairman Geoff McMullen, who can see national frameworks being mapped to e-Competence. Also in progress are initiatives including the European e-skills ILB portal that aims to support companies and individuals. 

So skills and competence frameworks seem now to be all the rage, opening-up markets, and potential around the world. We still need companies and individuals to buy-in though.

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