1 Title/current version
SFIA (Skills Framework for the Information Age) – Version
6 (released June 2015) - in 3 minutes
2 The basics
SFIA, the Skills Framework for the Information
Age, describes skills required by professionals in
roles involving information and communications
technology. First published in 2003, and regularly
updated, SFIA has become the globally accepted
common language for the skills and
competencies required in the digital world.
The collaborative development style involves open consultation and input from people with real
practical experience of skills management in
corporate and educational environments. That is
what sets SFIA apart from other, more
theoretical, approaches and has resulted in the
adoption of SFIA by organisations and individuals
in nearly 200 countries.
SFIA is a practical resource for people who manage or work in information systems-related roles of any type. It provides a common reference model in a two-dimensional framework consisting of skills on one axis and seven levels of responsibility on the other. It describes professional skills at various levels of competence. It also describes generic levels of responsibility, in terms of Autonomy, Influence, Complexity and Business Skills.
SFIA is updated frequently to remain in step with user needs and current thinking about information age capabilities.
A common language for skills in the digital world
SFIA gives individuals and organisations a common language to define skill, abilities and expertise in a consistent way. Clear language, avoiding technical jargon and acronyms, makes SFIA accessible to all, including Human Resources and Learning and Development professionals. It can solve some of the common translation issues that hamper communication and effective partnerships within organisations and mixed teams.
It helps describe business needs and to assess your workforce’s ability to meet those needs.
By defining core competencies as professional standards, SFIA helps organisations create roadmaps and development plans where both they and their employees can recognise a pathway to success and improvement.
With the widespread use of SFIA today, this consistent approach aligns the way recruitment seeks talent with the way an individual can demonstrate the right fit for the right role.
And consistency means that SFIA works well for both large and small organisations: they share an approach, a vocabulary, and a focus on skills and capability.
SFIA fits in with your way of doing things. It does not define organisational structures, roles or jobs; it provides clear descriptions of skills and levels of responsibility. The very structure of SFIA makes it a flexible resource which can be adopted and adapted to work in a range of HR systems and people-management processes.
4 Target audience
Individuals can map their current skills and experience, identify their goals, and plan their professional development journey. The mapping of higher-education courses, qualifications, professional memberships, and training courses helps individuals and their managers to choose the right actions and activities to support the development they need. SFIA can help in the creation of Job/Position Descriptions and in advertising vacancies, and helps individuals to identify opportunities which match their skills and experience.
Organisations use SFIA for overall resource management. It can be used to quickly provide a baseline of the capability of the organisation, specific departments, teams, professional communities or individuals, and to identify skills gaps. SFIA describes the skills and levels of competency needed to operate effectively – ensuring that individuals can do their jobs properly, supporting the achievement of business and customer outcomes. Organisation structures, salary banding and benchmarking can be aligned to SFIA, facilitating a link to the skills and experience, focusing on the required capabilities and the value delivered.
During Recruitment SFIA helps employers to more accurately describe what they need, in language that potential employees understand. It helps move away from an over-reliance on certificates and qualifications that often only confirm a theoretical understanding of the relevant areas, and towards specifying competency based on having the right skills and an appropriate level of experience and responsibility.
SFIA-based role profiles and job descriptions reduce business risk, increasing the chances of recruiting and developing individuals with the optimum mix of skills, at the right level. This is good for the organisation and the individual – it reduces the churn risk when individuals feel ‘the job is not what they thought it would be’, or the organisation discovers they haven’t got the right set of skills to do the job effectively.
Education bodies, universities, colleges and training providers map their offerings to SFIA, to ensure the most appropriate courses and certifications are selected for individuals, providing the knowledge they need, so they can apply it to help develop the skills they require at the right level.
Professional bodies and membership organisations map SFIA to their membership levels, certifications, professional development and mentoring programmes. SFIA is used to identify suitable mentors, supporting knowledge and experience sharing and coaching activities.
Conference and event organisers can identify the target audience by mapping to SFIA levels of responsibility, skill categories or individual skills and levels – so individuals can select the sessions which best match their development needs.
The skills are grouped into categories and subcategories for convenience of use. Like previous versions, colour codes are used to help identify the category the skill has been classified under.
5 Scope and constraints
SFIA V6 contains 97 skills, each described at one or more of 7 levels of responsibility. To aid navigation, SFIA structuresthe skills into 6 categories, each with a number of sub-categories.
These categories and sub-categories do not equate to jobs, roles, organisational teams, or areas of personal responsibility. The grouping is intended to assist people who are incorporating SFIA skills in role profiles or job descriptions, or who are building an organisation's competency framework. The categories and sub-categories do not have definitions themselves, they are simply logical structural containers to aid navigation – it is usual for a specific job description to comprise skills taken from multiple categories and sub-categories.
It also describes 7 generic levels of responsibility, in terms of Autonomy, Influence, Complexity, and Business Skills.
SFIA 7-levels of responsibility
The seven levels in SFIA are used in two key ways.
- To provide generic levels of responsibility, with descriptions at each of the seven levels for the following attributes: AUTONOMY · INFLUENCE · COMPLEXITY · BUSINESS SKILLS
- To reflect experience and competency levels within SFIA. The definitions describe the behaviours, values, knowledge and characteristics that an individual should have in order to be identified as competent at that level. Each level has a guiding word or phrase that acts as a brief indicator: FOLLOW · ASSIST · APPLY · ENABLE · ENSURE, ADVISE · INITIATE, INFLUENCE · SET STRATEGY, INSPIRE, MOBILISE
6 Relevant website