Category Archives: Competencies

Learning 3 – what are the key competencies for learning professionals?

On Friday I attended the Learning 3 symposium at the British Museum in London along with Jane Hart, Laura Overton and a crowd of others, mostly from the UK Further and Higher Education sectors.

Here’s a picture of me at the event producing a 30-second series of sound bites on what the future of Learning and Development needs  (the picture links to a video on the Learning 3 Ning site).

What our hosts LLUK (and particularly Briony Taylor) wanted to stimulate was a dialog around this question:

      What are the skills and competencies needed by the lifelong learning sector now?

During the day I put out a quick Twitter poll on this, as it seemed odd to be discussing Learning 3 in a room without pulling in the wider learning community. Jane Hart did the same.

The learning Twittersphere was engaged: we generated quite a few replies….

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The MEN Media Skills Matrix Redundancies

There has been much electronic comment this morning about a piece in the Guardian saying that MEN Media, which publishes the Manchester Evening News, will be using a skills matrix to decide on who to keep (or not) in a round of 150 redundancies.

What exactly are they doing? What will it mean and will it work?

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SFIA Conference wrap up

All wrapped up with the SFIA Conference for another year, and what a success. SFIA is largely run by volunteers, and the framework itself is available for free, making it a sort of mediated open source movement before its time (SFIA v1 was launched in 2000). The only paid member of the set-up is Operations Manager Ron McLaren. Everyone else contributes as they can.

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SFIA Conference 2008


It’s that time of year again. Thursday sees the annual conference of the SFIA Foundation in London, and once again I am honoured to have been asked to chair.

SFIA, of course, stands for Skills Framework for the Information Age, and is usually pronounced Sophia, like Sophia Loren. Although a framework of some 80 skills defining the skills of an IT professional is arguably less attractive.

Registration for the conference has been closed, because we’re full, which is excellent news and shows that peple are still prepared to invest time and money in learning about how to deploy skills management in their organisations.

Speakers include Karen Price of e-skills UK, as well as Andrew Gay, head of IT for the Ministry of Justice. Although I shall of course be chairing quite impartially in my capacity as a member of the SFIA Council, I am delighted that a number of InfoBasis customers will both be attending and speaking.

The significance of the day, though, really revolves around the launch of the latest version of the framework: SFIA v4. If nothing else, the fact that SFIA has been around long enough to reach its 4th iteration surely demonstrates that this is now the standard for understanding and defining the skills of the 21st century IT professional.

Conference Season

The months from the end of Summer to the start of Winter are the unofficial Conference Season. Highlights this season have included chairing both the IITT annual conference (last month) and the InfoBasis Skills Summit 2008 (last week). I ended last week keynoting at e2train‘s annual Uncovered conference.

Because it was only last week, the Skills Summit is still very much in my mind. Feedback on the day was very positive – which is what happens when you get great speakers like Professor William Scott-Jackson, Donald Clark and Alan Hewitt, along with pertinent case studies from Transport for London and BAE Systems. We went from a high-level view of human capital and talent down to the specifics of implementing a competencies approach for a profession and for a department, and that structure worked well. Thanks are due to InfoBasis partner, the IET, for the use of their splendid Riverside Room at Savoy Place. Despite being a jaded Londer myself, I marvelled at the panoramic view of the Thames, from the City across to Westminster.

Meanwhile, at e2train’s conference in rural Gloucestershire, I found during my speaking slot and talking to people afterwards that learning and development has had enough. Quite rightly L&D professionals are tired of having managers who don’t need training asking for it, and those that do need it not asking for it. There isn’t a quick fix to this, because getting skills development right requires a mind change from managers, executives and from L&D itself. Ultimately, yes, the right tools need to be in place – including  a competency-based L&D strategy – but the key thing is to change the relationship between L&D and the rest of the organisation. It must cease being an add-on and become an integral part of the role of the line manager, supported by a centralised function.