SFIA 4 will better harmonise skills

This coming 4 December will see the 7th Annual SFIA conference in London, and at long last a number of SFIA-related initiatives that have been in the background for the past few months will come into focus.

If last year's conference was anything to go by, there will be the usual buzz of networking, shared experience, and reasoned advice on IT professional skills. As with last year, the twin threads of management and implementation close with a framework review as SFIA Version 4 is scheduled for release at the conference, after several months of consultation.

The new version reflects more flexible routes to view or access the framework on the Internet, including positioning against the Government IT skills framework, ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library),and PROCOM (Professional Competency Model).

There are new areas that keep the framework in line with current practice in areas such as information management and architecture. A number of existing skills have been renamed or refreshed to reflect current practice. In any case, the conference and associated exhibition are relevant to IT, human resources, and business managers alike.

A related exhibition at the end of October, the Government IT Profession Conference, was a complete sell-out. Sessions covered Version 4 and professionalism in IT, including progress in a range of initiatives to improve the public sector IT profession, including local government. The underlying government IT professional competence framework is derived from SFIA.

On 20 November, the Engineering Council is due to release the new ICT Technician standard, delivering a world-wide competence-based registration standard for the many ICT technicians employed throughout the industry. With a similar competence structure to Engineering Technician (UKSPEC), it is specifically targeted at IT industry practitioners (as opposed to users).

A small number of professional institutions, including the IET, are likely to be first to offer the qualification from 2009. The standard, which is expected to be popular with the armed forces, and public and private sectors alike, states that registered technicians must be competent to SFIA Level 3 - applying - ICT skills.

Finally, global interest in the IT Skills Framework continues to grow, including a Spanish translation underway and IFIP (International Federation of Information Professionals) developments. IFIP, which was established several years ago under the UNESCO banner, has recently been consolidating an initiative to map professional ICT qualifications around the globe to SFIA, effectively creating a single global ICT professional qualification.

Set at SFIA level 5 - ensure, advise - this allows senior ICT practitioners to qualify for the International Information Technology Professional (IITP) designation to be launched world-wide from 2009.

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