The global skills and competency framework for the digital world

Survey summary - SFIA basic awareness and understanding

We are developing training material to provide basic SFIA education and awareness for people who are new to SFIA. The aim is for generic training material to be used by individuals, employers, professional bodies, universities, colleges, SFIA Consultants, SFIA Practitioners.

As one input to this we surveyed SFIA users, consultants and practitioners. The survey asked 3 questions...

  • what are the features/benefits to emphasize for people who are new to SFIA?
  • what are the most common areas of mis-understanding for people who are new to SFIA? 
  • any other comments or ideas?

Thanks to everyone who responded and shared their ideas...

  • we got responses from 12 different countries across five continents
  • we got detailed and well considered responses from people who clearly care a lot about the topics
  • the feedback will help to guide the design of the training material and approach and has also provided ideas in other areas
  • it's an example of SFIA users sharing their practical experience to benefit others in the community

Below is an extract of survey responses - it doesn't include them all but is a representative sample. Some survey comments have been edited for clarity and context.

If you haven't responded yet - it's not too late...

  • I'll leave the survey open for the next 2 weeks 
  • We don't need detailed or lengthy answers - just 1 or 2 bullet points in response to 2 questions
  • The form can be found here

What are the features/benefits to emphasize for individuals who are new to SFIA?       

Survey participants highlighted...

.... a number of features/benefits to share with new SFIA users...

  • exploring skills and levels for future career development.
  • understanding areas to focus on to ensure breadth of knowledge
  • covers all levels of responsibility and accountability in an organisation from the newly-joined learner to the strategic leaders.
  • looking at seniority by considering autonomy/skills/influence/complexity/knowledge 
  • mappings and interoperability with other industry frameworks
  • emphasizing work-based practise -  i.e. having read about something and knowing the buzzwords isn't the same as having used that skill
  • identifying your capabilities against a worldwide standard that you can then use when applying for roles, career planning and identifying L&D needs

... some of the most notable features to be highlighted...

  • It is universal - not tied to any technology, country, role/governance system, professional body -
  • It is used globally and translated into many languages
  • It is based on industry input - i.e. real world not an academic exercise.
  • It is NOT a theoretical model, nor complicated or difficult to implement.
  • It is a very practical framework, easy to understand and apply since the first time.
  • SFIA is not just for tech people. It's also for anyone working on or in digital and can help you to understand the types of skills needed for roles in digital and ICT.
  • The broad coverage of SFIA. People may initially think it's highly technical and only IT focused. They are often surprised that there are non-technical skills included, and even more that technical skills may have level 7 capabilities that don't involve doing technical work.

    Common areas of mis-understanding for people who are new to SFIA?

    Training should emphasise that SFIA...

    • is a global framework (not just for the UK)
    • is a broad framework covering a number of digital, data, IT, security - it is not just for traditional IT 
    • the levels 1 to 7 are levels of responsibility/impact at work not levels of knowledge. This is especially important when mapping and comparing to other levelled frameworks such as qualifications, academic levels etc.
    • they need to read the full skill description to understand the differences between (similar sounding) skills
    • SFIA Foundation is a community led not-for-profit organisation - it is not a corporate enterprise selling products and services
    • supports the design of training/education but does not provide the content of training/education in all the skills
    • skills and competencies do not come from passing a knowledge test - true skills only come from practice, and they fade from lack of use.
    • there a number of different ways of navigate the framework to find skills and levels 

    Common areas of mis-understanding for people assessing their skills

    Training should help people who are assessing their skills by highlighting common pitfalls such as...

    • new users often self assess their levels too high – based on being an expert or having detailed knowledge rather than understanding the levels of responsibility
    • quantity v quality - a belief that claiming more skills is the aim rather than a focus on the skills you really have
    • confusing "knowledge" with "competence". This is particularly relevant to graduates and post-graduates who have demonstrated and been assessed for their knowledge, and perhaps skills, but have limited work experience
    • perhaps some Case Studies of self-assessments may help newcomers understand expectations.
    • the different between actually having and employing a skill vs have a superficial experience. e.g. students with almost no industry experience claiming up to 30 skills
    • the skills a manager has when they manage large team doing many things - managers can somehow assume that their skills are aggregation of all skills their team have

    Other comments and ideas?

    • help for early careers individuals to interpret SFIA skills. Some detailed examples would be useful - e.g. using "personas" - small fictional case studies that say more about an individual's role and how they are demonstrating each skill through specific job role elements
    • representing the concepts of SFIA visually to communicate the basics. Use cases or a rich picture could be handy to help display the value of SFIA
    • development of some short video's based on case studies of how the SFIA can be applied in the real world in a range of scenarios.
    • the amount of information on encountering the website can be overwhelming for a new arrival and I've had to guide people I've referred SFIA to through the basics. So better orientation for new arrivals would be really welcome. Some UX work on the site would be really worthwhile. Everything is there, it's just the structure and presentation that overwhelms.
    • wider promotion for use beyond the IT club.
    • a 'tool' for using/applying the skills would be great for those without resources to develop one would be great. 
    • perhaps some case studies of self-assessments may help newcomers understand expectations.
    • further explanation of SFIA views and why particular skills are selected for each view
    • materials to be in multiple formats i.e. more than just a PDF or Word document. Think HTML, SCORM, FLAC (for audio books) etc.
    • demonstrate how the behavioural factors can be applied in support of the skills management lifecycle
    • can be used as map to navigate career development - by identifying activities leading to increased responsibility or specialised professional skills. Being able to clearly articulate what you offer. Being able to understand / analyse opportunities. For organisation to understand the skills they have and the skills they need (workforce planning and org design) to retain staff by articulating career paths.
    • a 'Whats in it for me' approach could also work for some audiences
    • something of a whitepaper on implementation would help generating interest with organisations to invest in starting to think about implementing SFIA
    • For specific use cases, perhaps workflows (like wizards) could guide you through the content.

      1. If you are looking to develop your career (use case)
      2. What main role are you currently doing?
      3. What level of responsibility do you currently have?
      4. Here are places you can look for advice on getting to next level..."

    • using SFIA in education or career guidance when people are considering a career in IT but not sure which area or what is involved in each role.
    • make it less dry; fun stuff always goes down a treat. An interactive assessment tool would be great.
    • add to skill descriptions at lower levels (this can be very impactful for entry level employees).
    • FAQs, explanations around SFIA linking/not to specific training courses, how to apply the levels and that the levels are not necessarily progressive.