Educational itSMF UK People and Skills Event at University of Northampton

The latest itSMF UK Midlands and East Anglia Regional meeting on 17th September, was hosted by the University of Northampton, with the theme looking at one of the Big 4 Themes – People and Skill.

Regional chair David Backham had pulled together an interesting day with presentations and workshops covering areas of the topic People and Skills.

After the initial chair introduction and health and safety messages itSMF UK’s Business Development Manager Colin Dudley gave the latest itSMF Update.

The key messages given were that the itSMF UK Office had now moved to smaller (and cheaper) premises in Bracknell, new articles & constitution relating to the new Management Board structure and the 2015 Conference taking place on 23rd & 24th November at the Sofitel Hotel at Heathrow Terminal 5.

Then the University of Northampton’s Sandra Whittleston gave a presentation entitled “New Routes to Skills Development in the UK”

This looked at, in some detail, ITSM and Skills Agenda, Education (including CPD) and Challenges & Opportunities.

It reviewed challenges around the current skills shortage and its effect on the economy, business effectiveness and the reliance now on computer based technologies and the need for quick to market strategies (which must include IT).

The changing technology landscape was described with its complex supply chain, large volumes of data and greater mobility of end users. This included BYOD effectiveness and issues.

From the academia perspective today’s students need business acumen, service acumen as well as IT/Technology acumen to be effectiveness in the jobs marketplace. At the moment a lot of universities still have separate business and computing courses, with computing still being coding based. This is not helped by the fact that the syllabus is still using a 2007 version, whereas the business students are utilising a more current 2015 version.

For students ITSM is still emerging and it would be much better to get them involved earlier including internships. At a higher level the Master’s Degree in ITSM has no linkage with the ITIL Master qualification, which is not logical and should change.

So in conclusion the area of what skills students should learn was looked at with these being the main areas: Main elements of ITSM Framework, Service concepts, Business concepts, Logistics and supply chain and international perspectives.

As a separate element Sandra Whittleston announced that a strategic partnership between the University of Northampton and Fujitsu Services had been signed just before the event. This would include for students site visits to Fujitsu’s Stevenage facility, mentoring and guest speakers and student project work and research for 2nd year business and IT students.

After a brief break for refreshments we next had a presentation and workshop “SFIA – Using Job Roles” and the recently launched v6 (June 2015), by Matthew Burrows of BSMimpact, a SFIA Accredited Partner.

This looked at the skills in the digital world and its link to job descriptions and professional development. The new v6 of SFIA has 97 skills, structured into six categories, described at one or more of the 7 levels of responsibility. It is currently used in around 200 countries to help with professional ICT skills and in particular role profiles and job descriptions, procurement, education & training and recruitment.

Each individual level/category has a detailed description used by both HR professionals and staff for their career development. It is written for/by the industry in plain language, so it is easy to understand.

SFIA tools have been developed for self-assessment for individuals, creation of Role Profiles and Job Descriptions, and supporting recruitment, professional development, and a number of other activities.

The new skills added in v6 included Digital Forensics and Penetration Testing.

It is available via the web and in print in English, Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic.  Other languages are being considered for translation.

SFIA can also be used to perform an Organisational assessment, confirming which skills a company has now, and to confirm the skills that are needed for success.  This is used as the basis for planning activity to close agreed gaps.

Major users include Governments in Australia, UK, USA and various other countries, US Navy, Disney Corporation and Fujitsu.

Then Matthew introduced the workshop element and asked each delegate over the lunch break to do a mini self-assessment of their skills and responsibility levels using v6. It was suggested that each delegate choose one or two competencies, and also score their responsibility levels against Autonomy, Influence, Complexity and Business Skills, as defined in SFIA.

The next agenda item on the program was Skype link-ups with past MSc in Service Management students, based in UK and Europe. This was a very interesting session with each past student given 5 minutes to discuss and answer questions about how they are now using the skills and benefits of the course.

Daniel Mangani (Analyst Malta Government) gained benefits to help him with research and using the right resources, along with help investigating problem management.

Alex Cartlidge (Asset Inventory Process Manager at the European Central Bank) talked about his benefits from the course being help with business presentations along with ITSM tools. On a day to basis he now uses the skills for gap analysis of software services.

For Aminu Seidu (Network Engineer at University of Northampton) the benefits were the help with confidence to give business presentations and better understanding the ITIL ‘Lingo’.

Then Regional Chair David Backham gave a brief update of the future region’s event with a plea for venues as well as suggestions for topics. From the discussion with delegates one of the meeting in 2016 to cover off the other Big 4 topics as well DevOps & Agile and Servicedesk.

David Backham then gave a brief background presentation about CPD, including a brief history of work and the evolution through the ages of the concept of careers.

This moved to the need for lifelong learning and adapting and where CPD can help your development and improve productivity.

He referenced to a University of Warwick study on career progression models with its 4 types – Evaluative, Strategic, Aspirational and Opportunistic.

In terms of industry tools there is an ever wider group to choose from, which delegates commented on. These includes ones from Axelos & BCS.

We then finished off the day with an Axelos presentation “Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and the Career Path Portal”.

This started off with a quote “Person who graduates today and stops learning tomorrow is uneducated the day after”

It looked at a virtuous circle covering ITIL & PRINCE 2 linking it to the European e-Competence Framework v3.

In terms of key areas of CPD assessment it had four which were: Professional Experience, Training, Community Participation and Self Study.

The key benefits to organisations would be: Professional recognition, Skills development, CPD Tools, Knowledge and Community

As a wrap-up David Backham thanked the delegates for attending and getting involved and in particular Sandra Whittleston for hosting the event and supplying the tasty refreshments.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts is an experienced Media, PR, Communications and imaging professional, based in South Warwickshire/North Cotswolds. He specialises in communications, social media, PR and imaging working with both commercial clients and local groups, working with them to maximise their publicity and visibility.He comes with extensive experience in the corporate, public sector and not for profit areas, where he managing their social media and communications campaigns and channels.

He spent 10 years (2004 – 2014) working as a UK Motor racing media professional, working with clients for their social media, press releases and newspaper articles, which were supplied with my images. I was fully accredited in the UK for championships such as Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and British F3/GT championships. I also worked in Europe on the FIA GT championships at Spa Francorchamps (Belgium) and Monza (Italy).

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