In this Q&A we talk to Austeja Trinkunaite, Secretary-General of CEPIS, about the flagship initiative, ITPE, and the network’s support for the e-Competence Framework (e-CF) and its implementation across Europe.
We asked Austeja why CEPIS decided to create a new network specifically focusing on IT professionalism and what they aim to achieve?
Austeja: We are seeing that the lack of a highly skilled IT workforce is increasing as our society goes more digital, and by 2020 around 500.000 IT staff with advanced skills will be missing in Europe unless we do more to provide the market with an adequate supply of workforce.
Our aim is to create a platform for all relevant stakeholders to meet and discuss the initiatives necessary to keep up with digitalisation, which should help businesses and politicians gain a clear overview of the nature of the IT profession and what the next steps are to improve its different components.
Q: Key to your work is the European Competence Framework (e-CF) – what is its purpose, and why has so much effort been put into developing such a framework?
Austeja: It all started more than 10 years ago, when European stakeholders got together to create a European digital competence benchmark to enable schools, businesses and jobseekers to understand each other. By creating a common language for measuring the IT-skills of employees, the effort to reduce the skill gap of highly skilled IT professionals will become better coordinated and more efficient.
Q: Do you have any practical examples of how e-CF facilitates good practices within a company, e.g. related to HR management?
Austeja: Yes, absolutely. Many companies use the e-CF to facilitate recruitment, upskilling and strategic personnel planning. For example, one of ITPE’s members has developed a comprehensive digital competence framework for their company based on two European frameworks (e-CF and Digcomp). This framework covers all key roles in the company: IT professionals, business specialists as well as other employees.
This framework has allowed them to clearly communicate their requirements when hiring new professionals and estimate digital competences of the existing staff. The framework also allows them to provide more relevant training to fill in the skills gaps in employees’ profiles.
Q: In terms of the e-CF’s applicability, some point to the difficulty of keeping the e-CF streamlined with the continuously developing demands for the digital sector. Do you agree that there are certain limitations to the e-CF?
Austeja: We may use a similar terminology within professional networks, but we do not always mean the same thing. For example, the job title Business Analyst might require one set of competences in one company and have completely different requirements in another. If we want to speak the same language, we need structure and stability. The e-CF updates are necessary and do take some time, but the common framework remains a highly reliable reference point that will ensure transparency and transferability of employees within companies and among them.