The government aims to drive up standards of IT professionalism by deploying a standard framework for assessing the skills of IT staff across all its departments.
The Core Skills Framework, based on the widely recognised Skills Framework for the Information Age, is designed to help IT professionals progress their careers and develop their skills. It has been taken up by 75% of central government IT departments and is now being rolled out by local authorities.
In an interview with Computer Weekly, John Suffolk, the government's chief information officer, said that the framework would help managers review the performance of IT staff.
"It gives you a real structure for having development-based reviews with people," Suffolk said. "Managers can ask, have you proven this competence? Do you want some help with this course? Are you at the required level?"
Suffolk said that the framework could also open up new career paths for government IT staff, allowing them to progress their careers in different directions rather simply being promoted vertically.
"They can begin to think 'if I can just build these three or four competencies, I can go horizontal, I can go vertical, I can go diagonal'. It has opened people's eyes in terms of the other things they can be doing with business change," Suffolk said.
"What we are saying is that it is important we don't go through a tick-box routine. This is about confidence, it is about skills. It is about a different way of doing business. It is important that we get it right."
In the longer term, government departments are looking at ways of using the framework to match the skills of IT professionals more closely with the needs of up-and-coming projects.
"We are looking at the complexity level of the programme," Suffolk said. "We have started to give thought to how you match the competency of your people to the complexity of the programme. It is at a very early stage, so we are just having those conversations now."
Suffolk said that the programme would have a knock-on effect on the success of IT projects.
"It is a truism of life which says that to do brilliant things with people you have to have a range of behaviours, skills, knowledge, experience and competencies.
"I think this will have a big impact," he said.