SFIA = Skills Framework for the Information Age
It describes skills required by professionals in roles involving information and communications technology.
The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) is a bridging tool, between Higher Education and the industry, which aims to enable students to have a better understanding of the employers’/business needs and to identify their personal strengths and career aspirations to the opportunities available.(Sfia-online.org, 2016)
SFIA is a common language / platform for skills in the digital industry. SFIA allows individuals, employees, organisations and businesses to communicate and define skills, abilities and expertise in a more efficient and consistent way.
These skills have been defined by IT professionals, employers and are incorporated into the job descriptions or role profiles used by a number of organisations including UK government. The skills are mapped across seven standard responsibility levels. Each level has a full generic definition and a short tag that summarises the essence of the level.
With a common language in the industry it avoids a lot of problems, mistakes and more importantly costs to businesses in both financial and time waste form from miscommunication with different ‘languages’. It allows businesses clearly describe what exact skill set they are looking for from the employees, making recruitment process much efficient/time saving. Also SFIA helps information systems related businesses and organizations create guidelines and development plans, where both they and their employees to stay on track and focus.
Individuals use SFIA identify their skills and experience, help them set their goals and plan their professional development journey. Searching for higher-education courses, qualifications, professional memberships, and training courses is much easier with SFIA, it helps individuals and their managers to take the right actions to support the development they need. SFIA can help in the creation of Job/Position Descriptions and in advertising vacancies, and helps individuals to identify opportunities which match their skills and experience.
Organisations use SFIA for overall resource management. It helps provide a baseline of the capability and capacity of the organisation. Can be further sort into smaller areas of organisation, specific departments, teams, professional communities or individuals. SFIA describes the skills and levels of competency required to operate effectively, allowing origination make the best possible decision to allocate recourses and workload to their employees, ensuring that individuals can do their jobs properly.
During recruitment process employers use SFIA to produce an accurate job description, what skills and experience are required. It helps move away from an over-reliance on certificates and qualifications that often only confirm a theoretical base understanding of the relevant areas and towards specifying competency based on having the right skills and an appropriate level of experience and responsibility. Move away from certificates and qualifications may also help prevent incidences where fake certificates are involved reduce business risk. SFIA based job profiles and descriptions reduce business risk, increasing the chances of recruiting and developing the best available individuals with mix of skills, at the right level for the job. This is good for both organisation and the individual, it reduces the risk/cost when employees think the job is not what they thought it would be like or the organisation discovers they haven’t got the right set of skills to do the job effectively/properly.(Sfia-online.org, 2016)
Education organisations, universities, colleges and training course/lesson providers use SFIA to set the courses/lessons they offer, to ensure the most appropriate courses and certifications are selected for individuals, providing the knowledge they need for information system related jobs that they are interested in or demanded by the industry, so they can apply it to help develop the skills they require at the right level.
Professional bodies and membership organisations use SFIA to set their membership levels, certifications, professional development and mentoring programmers. SFIA is used to identify suitable mentors, supporting knowledge and experience sharing and coaching activities.
Conference and event organisers can identify the target audience by using SFIA levels of skills and levels, individuals can select the sessions which best match their development needs.(Sfia-online.org, 2016)
Sfia-online.org. (2016). SFIA. [online] Available at: http://www.sfia-online.org/en .