The global skills and competency framework for the digital world

Australian Public Sector - webinar recording - Developing digital & data skills

Developing frameworks, tools and approaches for managing digital capability for Australian Public Services (APS)

This user story is of general interest to SFIA users and of particular interest to public sector organisations and government bodies. 

  • This includes those who are using or planning to use SFIA or for those who are considering developing a bespoke framework for skills, competencies and/or roles.


Grant Nicholson is Lead Capability Architect at Australian Public Service Commission.
The APS employs approximately 10,000 digital professionals in around 200 agencies. Builds and supports this workforce through the APS Digital Profession.
The APS Digital Profession aims to lift the digital capability of the Australian Public Service (APS) to transform government services and build a government fit for the digital age. It will improve the digital expertise of individuals and organisations to build a digital ready workforce.

Discussion points/Key learning

Grant described a number of key elements from their journey that have enabled them to have wide scale impact throughout their diverse workforce:

  1. The story to so far in using SFIA across Australian Public Service...

    • Using SFIA extensively since 2010
    • In 2021 - Australia worked with the SFIA Foundation to establish an economy-wide license that covers everyone and all businesses based in Australia.
    • The importance of selecting an internationally recognised framework that is used in both public and private sector that has integrity and a proven track record of support.
    • Developing a role framework covering around 200 roles
    • Mapping SFIA skills and SFIA levels needed by professionals in these roles
  2. Community of practice

    • Supporting the Australian and New Zealand public sector with a SFIA community of practice
    • Collaboration across the entire SFIA user community through workshops focused on SFIA enhancement (currently working towards SFIA 9 change requests)
    • Influencing the development of SFIA - proposed several change requests and reviewed others for inclusion in SFIA 8.
    • Actively working on enhancements for SFIA 9 - e.g. recent open workshop looking at SFIA 9 and the SFIA Ecosystem
    • Ownership - the The Australian community think of SFIA as ‘our framework’
  3. The APS Career Pathfinder tool...

    • The APS Career Pathfinder tool is a Digital Profession initiative aimed at building and retaining digital capability in the Australian Public Servic
    • The tool was developed to help people compare their skills to digital roles of interest to them based on capability frameworks (primarily SFIA)
    • Uses a capability model and capability frameworks to describe digital roles. Describes roles not jobs.
    • Uses other capability frameworks that can work alongside SFIA - e.g. the APS Data Capability Framework (DCF)
    • Data driven – role data comes from, provided by experts
    • Uses learning catalogues mapped to capability frameworks
    • First release 22 July 2022
    • Working towards open-source development – if you are interested in potential collaboration please contact us via: [email protected]

Webinar recording

Two sessions were help to cover the majority of timezones: The second session is presented here - both sessions are available from our Youtube Channel.

Slides available here (pdf)

Questions & Answers

We had a large number of questions over the 2 webinar sessions. Grant was able to answer most of these on the webinar. 

One of the advantages of attending the webinars live is the opportunity to ask questions directly to our speakers. 

Here's some of the questions Grant discussed/answered on the webinar...

    • Currently have defined around 170 roles with SFIA as the core framework.
    • Developing more roles as necessary including data roles using the APS Data Profession.
    • Roles are defined via facilitated discussions/workshops with subject matter experts from the professional disciplines.
    • They have focused on creating their Role Framework using SFIA - jobs are specific instances of roles which may have local differences and context requirements.
    • It can be difficult to get people separate roles from jobs, but this has been key to establishing a consistent set of definitions.
    • Australia have played a major role in the development of SFIA, particularly over the last two releases and are currently active in the development of SFIA V9.
    • They see SFIA as their framework as they have contributed to its content and continue to influence its development and direction. Established an Australian SFIA Users forum for discussion and sharing.
    • Australia have a whole-of-country SFIA Licence to promote skills and competency development throughout Australia and across public and private sector.
    • They have linked a number of learning catalogues to particular role and skills. Currently this is their existing learning catalogues but are looking to add more in the future.
    • We focus on experience rather than qualifications/theory.
    • What level of framework awareness is necessary to use the career pathways tool. It depends on what you are doing; little to look at your own skills but more to develop the definitions.
    • They are working on a benefits measurement strategy. It is too early to say the benefits of using their Career Pathfinder tool but having a common basis to describe roles and skills across departments is already proving useful.

    There were many questions from different parts of Australian public sector asking for more information about this initiative and the Careerpathways tool which Grant answered during the event or were answered by the team for follow up.

    Additional questions/answers...

    These were raised by webinar participants. They don't relate directly to how the APS Digital Profession use SFIA so we've provided a response from a SFIA Foundation perspective.

    Question. You mentioned the Whole-of-Country SFIA Licence - what other countries have these licences.

    • Answer. At present Australia and New Zealand have Whole-of-Country SFIA Licences to generate momentum in their national skills and competency activities. A few others are currently discussing similar licensing with the SFIA Foundation. If there is interest please contact the SFIA Foundation directly.

    Question. Is CIISec and NICE mapped to SFIA.

    • Answer. The SFIA Foundation is in discussions with a number of organisations that want to map their offerings to SFIA to take advantage of the SFIA global footprint. Specifically, CIISec are SFIA Partners and are mapping their framework to SFIA as part of their update; The SFIA Foundation and the NICE programme are having a number of discussions. Currently SFIA has 9 explicit cyber skills and 41 other skills where cyber is a component. If anyone wants further information please contact the SFIA Foundation.

    There are number of collaboration activities that the SFIA Foundation is involved in; one of these is focused on Framework Interoperability (in fact this particular work was proposed by APS).