Unilever has adopted an IT career framework to help managers and employees understand IT skills and capabilities within the company.
The firm, which owns brands such as Hellman's, Knorr and Domestos, hopes the framework will help it to exploit IT more effectively by making it clear what skills are available.
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The intranet-based framework was created using a best practice model from the British Computer Society. The company used SFIAplus, which contains the Skills Framework for the Information Age model, to make it clear what IT roles were needed and the development necessary to fulfil these roles.
Work on the career framework started in 2006, when a cross-regional team identified 10 "role families" from the 78 skills held in SFIAplus. Role profiles were then created for each of the role families and aligned to a future IT function.
The functions were created using browser-based skills manager software from the BCS.
Employees can now access the profiles and compare their own IT skills to those required for either potential or current roles. They can then enrol on to a relevant development programme to reach the required skills level as well as gaining appropriate external accreditation.
Daryl Beck, director of Unilever's IT academy, said, "It is all about enabling Unilever to gain competitive advantage through IT. For the members of the IT team it is about having the right qualifications, being professional, and enabling the business to move forward."
He added that the changes were part of a business change at Unilever. "Over the past two years we have been putting in a new IT model, and this has enabled that new group to understand what was expected of them."
The challenge, he said, was to convince employees of the benefits. "It is not just a sheet of profiles, it is a change programme. People do not like change, and the biggest challenge is convincing people this is what they should be using.
"We have had to spend a huge amount of time this year talking to people about the benefits of the framework and new skills."