LPI "Behind the Scenes": Skills Standards and the European e-Competence Framework

LPI alumni, and the individuals who take our exams, inherently recognize that IT certification is a valuable indicator of technology skills and knowledge. Rare is the IT professional who doesn't hold a number of IT certifications. These certifications indicate to employers, clients and colleagues an individual's technical expertise.


However, as part of LPI's larger agenda of workforce development and the promotion of Linux and Open Source careers, we also work with industry, academia and government to ensure that LPI certification is a recognized "skills standard". This "skills standard" work (which provides additional value to our certifications) can take a variety of forms: with industry representatives it can be simply a recognition of our certification as a requisite skill (for example as with HP) or as an overall entry-level certification for Linux technology (as per Novell and CompTIA: for example, see this blog for a description of the "3-in-1" Linux certification program). Other "skills standards" work LPI undertakes is with academic organizations which set curriculum standards (for example ECABO/Netherlands: or CSTA/USA). Finally, LPI works with governmental or multi-lateral organizations on standards-related issues -- as is most recently demonstrated by our work with the e-Competence Framework which works with a number of European Commission-related organizations to set pan-European IT skills standards.

<IMAGE LEFT: John Meaney, LPI VP for EMEA, addresses panelists at the "Towards a European Quality label for ICT industry training and certifications -- European Conference", Brussels, Belgium, January 24, 2013. Mr. Meaney also participated in the "Launch of the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs" conference, March 4-5, Brussels.>

The list of organizations involved in setting pan-European IT skills standards are multiple. From LPI's perspective, our invitation to participate in these initiatives represents the tacit recognition that within the European Union, LPI is recognized at the highest level for our competence in Linux and Open Source certification.

However, before detailing both this work and high-level international recognition, a little background is in order.

For close to a decade governments around the world have noted a looming shortage in skilled IT professionals. This has accelerated in the last few years, where despite high levels of regional unemployment, shortages of IT skills continues to increase. The mismatch between available skills labour market needs is a concern of all EU Member States (similarly so in other jurisdictions). Demand for ICT practitioners within the EU is growing 3% annually -- leading to predictions that as demand outstrips supply as many as 864,000 EU ICT job vacancies will go unfilled by 2015.


This is where IT certification comes in. To quote: "...In this context, ICT industry training and certification is clearly an element in the possible solution. But there are barriers to overcome. An ICT practitioner faces an often bewildering range of thousands of certificates, whether starting a career or advancing towards areas of the highest demand. There is a lack of transparency, with a wide diversity of certificates covering the technical training offered by nearly every ICT vendor, foundations in information management, or high-end certificates. Moreover, many of these certificates exist in parallel to - but unrelated with - formal vocational and higher education." (from "European Quality Labels for ICT Industry Training and Certifications” on behalf of the European Commission DG ENTR)


This is where LPI certification as a professional designation, created by those working in the industry, transparency of exam development, vendor-neutrality, and cooperation with all training delivery systems (industry, formal vocational and higher education) makes us an ideal contributor to international skills standards.


Some of the work LPI is involved with in the development of EU "skills standards" in 2013:


1. The e-Competence Framework (e-CF) has been developed as a European standard by the CEN Workshop on ICT Skills. CEN stands for "Comité Européen de Normalisation" ("European Committee for Standardization"). This organizations sets "skills standards" not by job profiles but by competencies that can then be adapted and customised into different ICT business contexts. See more information on e-CF at http://www.ecompetences.eu


2. European E-Skills Association (EeSA) and European CIO Association (EuroCIO). LPI was invited by EeSA to participate in meetings with a number of organizations to build an overall "e-CF Governance organization". LPI is now part of the Steering Committee for this initiative. In addition, EeSA has spearheaded a "European e-Competence Framework Pledge" involving 18 organizations committed to creating a pan-European framework for ICT Professionalism and working together to reduce unemployment and skills mismatches. Along with LPI, other notable IT companies such as CISCO, CompTIA, HP, IBM, Intel, and Microsoft participated in this initiative.


3. LPI, as part of the steering committee on e-CF governance, has also been involved in the development of an eSkills Quality Labels program. This project (which should finalize its proposals this upcoming June 2013) is developing European e-skills quality labels which will promote program transparency and provide market guidance for ICT industry training and certification that will align with the e-Competence Framework. For relevant downloads and video see: http://eskills-quality.eu/results-downloads/downloads/


LPI's contributions to these multilateral initiatives is exemplary and has been noted so by industry leaders. For example, Werner Korte of Empirica (the leading agency behind the eSkills Quality Labels proposals) had the following to say about LPI's contributions:


"LPI is recognized as a vendor independent high level worldwide certification program in the area of Linux and Open Source. We highly appreciate the very positive feedback by LPI on our proposals for the development of the e-Skills quality labels. It will greatly assist in closing the ICT skills gap in Europe," said Werner Korte, Director at Empirica.


Some other links of interest: