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Breakout group 4 Attachment B1- International initiatives
Breakout group paper 4—Attachment B1
e-skills UK ( www.e-skills.com ) has been established to ensure that the UK's skills pool permits the unrestricted growth of the IT and telecommunications industries. This includes increasing the participation rate of women in ICT. e-skills UK operates under licence from the UK government and represents the collaboration between employers, educators, government and other stakeholders.
e-skills UK is one of 23 employer-led Sector Skills Councils to improve skills and productivity in industry and business sectors throughout the UK. It is a not-for-profit, employer-led organisation which acts in a strategic capacity, working with partners to improve business competitiveness and productivity. Its mission is to unite employers, educators and government on a common, employer-led agenda for action on skills. Its strategic intent is to ensure that the UK's skills pool enables the unrestricted growth of the IT and Telecoms industries, with the whole economy benefiting from the opportunities offered by technology exploitation. This ranges from the ability of businesses to understand and gain competitive advantage from IT through to the IT user skills every person needs to participate in the e-economy.1 It is supported by IBM, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Cisco and other key IT companies.
To help combat the skills shortage, including the shortage of women, e-skills UK launched The Sector Skills Agreement for IT 2005–2008 (SSA for IT) in June 2005.2 The SSA for IT has been designed as a three-year action plan with the aim of closing the productivity gap with the UK's major international competitors, namely France, Germany and the USA.
Employers will offer resources including employee hours, work placements, 'business guru' advisors in support of undergraduate programs and development, design and delivery of programs such as Computer Club for Girls (CC4G) and vocational qualifications like ITQ linked to the e-skills Passport . The SSA for IT aims to address not only the deficit of new employees entering the IT industry, but also the wider issue of IT skills shortage by users (IT use is reported to be required in 90 per cent of jobs). Research conducted by e-skills indicated that one-quarter of British businesses lack employees with the everyday IT skills to do their jobs.
The purpose of the SSA for IT is to address the UK's IT skills needs through a coherent strategy that takes account of four related communities: the IT industry, IT professionals in other sectors, all business managers and leaders, and all who use IT in their day to day work and lives. It represents the collaboration between employers, educators, government and other stakeholders. Its relevance to the industry is ensured by its employer-led status.
Cisco, IBM, British Airways, Ford and EDS are among the employers who have pledged to invest in the action plan. Employers have committed to spending £2.4 billion on employee training over the next three years.
Content of the Sector Skills Agreement for IT
The SSA for IT strategy is backed by the CEOs of leading IT companies, including IBM, HP, Microsoft, Oracle, EDS, Cisco, Accenture, Fujitsu and T-Mobile—along with the Heads of IT from influential companies in other sectors and a large number of small companies from each region of the UK.
e-skills UK, with help from its employer board and other employers in the sector, has identified four solutions:
- Make IT careers more attractive
This includes a new approach to careers advice by linking employers with schools and universities. It also includes initiatives such as CC4G (see below.)
- Prepare the future workforce
A new Honours degree has been developed combining practical business skills and IT management (Information Technology Management for Business BSc (ITMB)). The degree incorporates business, technology, interpersonal and project work and will be available to Undergraduates from September 2005 at the universities of Reading, Greenwich, Central England and Northumbria.
- Develop the existing workforce
e-skills UK has committed to create a business-focused national hub for IT related skills development and support, called the ‘e-business Academy'. A new qualifications structure has been agreed upon (the ITQ) and a linked mechanism (the e-skills Passport) for registering ‘starts', planning progress and recording achievements for individuals and their employers. It is currently being trialed.
- Improve the existing infrastructure
e-skills aims to develop a simplified, flexible framework for recognising achievement in IT skills, both professional and user. Employers and policy makers must work together to ensure this outcome.
Two government departments are involved in the SSA for IT:
- Department for Education and Skills (DfES) is making a contribution to the national rollout of CC4G, and will support the employer-led IT Diploma, and the costs of the ITMB degree rollout. DfES will support e-skills UK and the Learning and Skills Council in integrating the e-skills Passport and ITQ.
- Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is supporting the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA), the integration of the ITQ / e-skills Passport with the DTI Business Performance Diagnostic, aimed at micro SMEs.
e-skills Exchange: Computer Club for Girls (CC4G)
The e-skills Exchange is an innovative online service, developed by e-skills UK, designed to bring together employers and education to help deliver IT skills. e-skills UK's Computer Clubs for Girls (CC4G) is the first program available on the Exchange.
The CC4G is a voluntary out of school-hours computer club exclusively available to girls. It is designed to complement the national ICT curriculum. CC4G has been piloted in schools over the last two years, offering more than 40 hours of e-learning and 55 hours of off-line projects. The CC4G activities have been developed to specifically motivate and sustain the interest of girls aged between 10 and 14 by using fashion, music and celebrities.
The government has pledged £8.4 million to the project (this sum is drawn from capital/revenue budgets within the Schools Directorate of the Department of Education and Skills, and represents the full value of the contract with e-skills through to March 2008.). Employers have reportedly offered a matched funding commitment of £22 million and donated software to up to 3600 schools across England. Gael, Idigicon and Serif have agreed to donate software, while companies such as British Airways, Orange and Cisco have agreed to support schools with employee volunteers. Other companies have committed ongoing advisory support and communications support to the project.
In 2004, CC4G won the ‘Online Solution of the Year' at the World of Learning Awards, a LearnEvents initiative ( www.learnevents.com ). The award recognises organisations that have significantly advanced performance in the UK training industry.
The Skills Framework for the Information Age
The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) is a not for profit body jointly owned by e-skills UK, the British Computer Society, the Institute of Electrical Engineers and the Institute for the Management of Information Systems.
The SFIA provides a common reference model for the identification of the skills needed to develop effective information systems making use of ICT. It is a simple and logical two dimensional framework consisting of areas of work on one axis and levels of responsibility on the other.
SFIA enables employers of ICT professionals to carry out a range of HR activities against a common framework of references—including skill audit, planning future requirements, development programs, standardisation of job titles and functions, and resource allocation.
There may be a possibility for something like the SFIA to be used as a mapping tool for the ICT profession in conjunction with the Australian Qualifications Network.
Further information on SFIA is available at www.sfia.org.uk
Further information about the Australian Qualifications Network is available at www.aqf.edu.au