Joint working between senior IT staff, government policy makers and ministers is to get a boost with the formation of a Government IT Academy next year.
Aimed at improving IT delivery, the academy will offer workshops to senior government IT professionals to enable them to practice new skills, said government IT profession director Katie Davis.
Davis, who is based in the Cabinet Office and reports to government CIO Ian Watmore, was speaking at the IT Skills Management and Professionalism in Public Administration conference in London last week, organised by the British Computer Society.
"The IT academy aims to enable senior IT people in government to practice their skills in a safe environment," she said.
It aims to bridge the gap between skills and cultures by enabling senior IT professionals to work with suppliers, policy makers and ministers on business problems, helping them to understand why they operate in the ways they do.
"Government can do more in sharing skills and best practice, both within departments and across government. We need to share knowledge and experience to make the most of what we already have," said Davis. "We are developing a more formal strategy for IT academies in the coming months."
Graduates 'ill-equipped for business'
Today's IT students graduates are ill-equipped for business, government CIO Ian Watmore told the IT Skills Management and Professionalism in Public Administration conference in London last week.
"The university system is producing the wrong sort of graduates," he said.
To make IT courses more relevant, sector skills council E-Skills UK has co-ordinated the creation of a new degree subject: IT for business management. The degree is being offered by four UK universities, with plans to increase that number to 20 next year.
Skills framework for business change
Government CIO Ian Watmore aims to make the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) a de facto standard for identifying and developing the competencies needed to deliver effective business change in government.
Later this year will see the launch of a broader, more business-related version of the SFIA IT skills definition model, first launched in 2003 through an initiative by the British Computer Society, E-Skills UK, the Institute for the Management of Information Systems, and the Institution of Electrical Engineers.
"My approach is to get a bandwagon going to make a de facto standard," said Watmore.
Geoff McMullen, president of the Council for European Professional Informatics Societies, said, "Frameworks give you the ability to define people skills you need and the means to measure their performance. If you cannot measure it you cannot manage it."
Claire Hamon, director of business information systems at the Crown Prosecution Service, is a strong supporter of the initiative. "SFIA is an excellent springboard for proactive resource management," she said.