Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

The Skills Framework for the Information Age: Engaging Stakeholders in Curriculum Design

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

The Skills Framework for the Information Age: Engaging Stakeholders in Curriculum Design

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) is a two-dimensional framework consisting of skills on one axis and seven levels of responsibility on the other that identify a broad set of technical and generic skills practiced by ICT professionals (SFIA Foundation, 2015a). While there is currently very limited documented usage of SFIA within an American context, the framework has been used extensively within the Australasian and British private and public sectors to: manage organizational ICT skill profiles and job design, define job families and position descriptions, structure staffing, promotion, and remuneration decisions. ICT professionals are encouraged to use SFIA to manage their career progression and professional development, which can be achieved using a variety of online tools and mobile applications (Australian Computer Society (ACS), 2016a; SFIA Foundation, 2015b).

SFIA further serves as the basis of national professional certification schemes in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada (ACS, 2013a; British Computer Society (BCS), 2016; Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS), 2016; Institute of IT Professionals (ITTP), 2016), and for the international accreditation of regional professional certification schemes by the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) as part of their International Professional Practice Partnership (IP3) (International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP), 2016; International Professional Practice Partnership (IP3), 2016; Johnson, 2010).

Indeed, the reach of SFIA has extended beyond its original European roots as evidenced by Rodprayoon (2015), who examined SFIA's role in underpinning Thailand's ICT standards for entry into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic community and to assist in the development of a skilled Thai labor force to meet its "Smart Thailand 2020" agenda. Rodprayoon states:

   the SFIA Framework is the skills framework
   underlying most international ICT certification
   programs being implemented around the world by
   the Society's kindred partners. It also provides a
   standard benchmark to ensure true international
   recognition of a country's certification program.

SFIA is also used by the ACS in conjunction with the accreditation of Australian higher education programs in ICT (ACS, 2016b, 2016c). The ACS recommends the use of SFIA to define career roles in curriculum design and management (ACS, 2012, 2016b), as do other educational and professional organizations in Great Britain, Canada, Sri Lanka, Chile and Malaysia.

However, there are relatively few examples to inform the processes and practices of academic institutions regarding the best way to do this. That is, there are limited examples to demonstrate how SFIA informs a top-down approach to curriculum design, or facilitates stakeholder interaction. Addressing this limitation in the existing literature is the principal contribution of this paper.

2. BACKGROUND

SFIA Version 6 defines 97 skills in six categories: Strategy and Architecture, Business Change, Solution Development and Implementation, Service Management, Procurement and Management Support and Client Interface (SFIA Foundation, 2015a). Generic definitions also characterize the extent to which an ICT professional works with autonomy, influences others, engages in complex work, and possesses basic business skills. Specific SFIA descriptors provide details for each technical skill, and specify up to seven levels of increasing responsibility: follow, assist, apply, enable, ensure/advise, initiate/influence, and set strategy/inspire/mobilize. It is worth noting that SFIA Levels of Responsibility are not dissimilar to Bloom's Taxonomy (Bloom, Kratwohl, and Masia, 1956), commonly used to describe levels of cognition in educational design. In its revised form (Anderson and Krathwohl, 2001), Bloom's Cognition Levels are: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. …

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