European ICT Professionalism A step forward

By Fabio Massimo, SBS expert.

The workshop ‘Towards a European framework for the ICT (Information Communication Technology) Profession’ was held in London on March 2. The meeting was hosted by the BCS (British Computer Society) one of the most important ICT Associations in the world present in many countries, and was organized by the SFIA Foundation along with the European Commission within a project on European ICT Professionalism developed by a consortium comprising Capgemini, IDC and Ernest & Young.

The SFIA Foundation is a private British foundation that owns and develops the SFIA (Skills Framework for the Information Age), a tool developed in the last decade, recognized and patented in 34 countries besides the UK. The SFIA is used by associations, companies and governments to manage and certify ICT human resources.

The London workshop had two main topics:

  • Review of the level of maturity of the IT profession in Europe;
  • Discussion on the steps towards convergence of SFIA and e-CF (e-Competence Framework)

The e-CF is the common framework of ICT competences developed by CEN, commissioned by the European Commission inthe last decade and it became a CEN European standard (EN 16426) in April 2016. During the meeting, experts who use or have developed the e_CF and SFIA representatives both agreed on the need to study the convergence of the two frameworks and to set up a working group to map SFIA against eCF.

From a technical point of view, the CEN standard and the de facto British standard have a similar structure; however, the former is based on the concept of”competence”, consisting of knowledge, skills and attitudes, while the latter develops the concept of skill and its level of responsibility and autonomy. Convergence is not a simple exercise but mapping will help experts and companies that want to use the tools.

We can’t help but note that, beside the technical aspect, there is also a “political” one. Both Frameworks have been developed in Europe, the e_CF as a standard will be adopted by all European Countries and SFIA has been adopted or used in dozens of non-European Countries. Convergence between the two frameworks would produce a global standard that would give Europe leadership in this area. In this sector, historically dominated by US, this would be an interesting result.

The opportunity will arise in the coming months when the maintenance of the e_CF begins. As we know, the ICT sector is so incredibly dynamic that a standard has to be quickly adapted to changes in the market. The maintenance process therefore will begin as soon as the standard is published. The development of e_CF version 4 could be the right occasion to incorporate the experience of SFIA gained worldwide in the new version of the European standard.

A second topic was discussed during the meeting: ethics. The concept of “professional ethics” exists in “historical” professions such as that of doctors, lawyers, engineers and it is fundamental in the construction of a pan-European ICT professionalism. It was noted that at present there is no pan-European professional code of conduct or ethics. It was agreed that there is a need to take the first steps to standardize the existing codes and lay the basis for a unified code that facilitates the development of a single European digital market.