Update on European e-Skills: "Quality labels" for IT Certification

LPI included within the 50 leading IT certifications of the e-Skills "Quality Labels" Prototype

Background:

In July, LPI announced that it had become a member of the European e-Skills Association (EeSA).

EeSA supports the development of e-skills and digital literacy in Europe in partnership with the European Commission and other stakeholders and public authorities across Europe. EeSA members include the Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS), Cisco, CompTIA, ECDL Foundation, The European CIO Association, EXIN, HP, LPI, Microsoft and Oracle.

Earlier this year we reported on LPI's work with EeSA on IT skill standards within a European-wide e-Competence Framework (e-CF) and an eSkills Quality Labels program.

Skill standards are a fundamental challenge to these organizations' work as it will assist in the development of the EU's future workforce. Demand for IT workers is growing at 3% annually of the total workforce of the Europe Union--outstripping available supply. Forecast IT job vacancies by 2015 vary from 300,000 to 800,000, and many of these will remain unfilled unless more is done to attract people into the IT workforce (particularly the young and unemployed). Compounding this human resources challenge is the following:

  • numerous national languages and training programs within the European Union's nation states and each with their competing jurisdictions of various skill standards, education curricula, and workforce development programs

  • a lack of transparency and congruence between formal vocational and higher education IT programs and those offered by an ever-increasing number of ICT providers offering thousands of industry-based training and certification courses (IBTC).

  • a lack of comprehensive information on the availability or content of IBTCs or how they relate to or overlap with each other.

  • recruitment challenges, particularly across borders, faced by both human resources departments and SMEs

  • uncertainty amongst curriculum developers about how to provide entry points for interested individuals and organisations

Given these challenges how is someone entering the IT workforce or seeking the best choices for career development able to make informed decisions around education, training and certification? Furthermore how is government and industry to make similar informed choices on educational and work force development priorities?

It is these fundamental questions and challenges which is the work of EeSA and its participating organizations such as LPI.

The "Quality Labels" Prototype: The e-skills Landscape Service

In March 2013, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) published a report entitled "ICT Certification in Europe - Part 2: ICT Certification in Action". One of the recommendations arising from this report was the acceptance and approval of 74 of the most popular industry certifications (all three of LPI's certifications are included in this list) as an initial project to map these certifications against the e-Competence Framework. This, in turn, led to the development of a prototype e-skills quality label project called the eSkills Landscape Service (http://www.eskillslandscape.eu/). The prototype includes 50 industry-based training and certification programs (IBTC) and, again, LPIC1, LPIC2 and LPIC3 are all included in this initiative.

<IMAGE ABOVE: "Annex A" (pg.42) from the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) report "ICT Certification in Europe - Part 2: ICT Certification in Action". The chart represents 74 market leading IT certifications (the relative values are from a CompTIA Certification Roadmap also included in the report) >

The prototype addresses the need for an e-skills quality label in that it assists employees and students interested in career development to sort through the multiple industry training and certification programs through an online self-assessment tool and web portal so that they can "distinguish high-quality certifications from those of questionable value" (Towards European e-Skills Quality Labels for ICT Industry Training and Certifications). In addition, it provides certification vendors with a "warranty of their quality" for both employers and government policy makers.

Certification providers listed in the service have their IT certifications mapped against both the European e-Competence Framework and CEN ICT Profiles. The process has not been completed as the IT skill standards identified by the European e-Competence Framework still requires agreement of various national bodies within the larger European Commission and the final agreement of IT industry representatives. Nevertheless, this existing prototype of 50 certification is an important first step and LPI is pleased to have been included in this ground breaking initiative. The final version of the eSkills landscape and self assessment tool will offer an interface for ICT vendors and certification providers to map their certifications to the European e-Competence Framework (e-CF) and upload them ready for inclusion in the certification database after an auditing and peer reviewing process.

<IMAGE ABOVE: LPIC-3 screen capture from the eSkills Landscape Service prototype "Comparing eSkills related Certificates” (http://www.eskillslandscape.eu/certification-profiles-2/). For each e-competency the G (General), P (Partial) and S (Superficial) indicate the extent the competency is covered by the certificate. Numbers in the ICT Profiles indicate level of competency for indicated job roles.>

Next Steps :

As outlined in our previous blog post on this subject LPI has had a historical interest in IT skill standards. Furthermore, our global presence in IT certification enables us to play a leadership roles in engaging like-minded partners and other stakeholders towards the development of such skill standards.

Given this history and on-going interest LPI has invited representatives of the European e-Skills program to address our Master Affiliates and other partners at our upcoming LPI EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) conference (October 18-20, Munich, Germany). We look forward to the presentations on this skill standards agenda such that those attending can return to their respective nations and engage other industry stakeholders, academia and government in informed discussions on the subject.

Presenting on the European e-Skills Association, Quality Labels and e-Competence Framework at the upcoming EMEA conference are the following:

Werner Korte:

Consultant with the European Commission (e-Skills Policy); Director and partner of empirica Gesellschaft für Kommunikations- und Technologieforschung mbH. A full profile is available here.

 

Andrea Parola:

General Manager of the European e-Skills Association (EeSA) and Managing Director, EU Strategy sprl, which offers government relations and regulatory affairs advice and services.