A modern capability (draft)

 

IT Profession Skills

The issues raised by this report point to quite new approaches and techniques in the publishing of information.  One early indicator is the proposal for an API model for publishing the 2011 census (link).  As with any innovation, the challenge for a large organisation such as the public sector is to capture the skills of leading professionals and transfer them to the body of the workforce.  The UK Government IT profession and the work of other professional bodies such as SOCITM provide good mechanisms to deliver this.

 The Government IT Profession and SOCITM describe themselves as follows:

 The Government IT profession (link) brings together all IT professionals working across the UK public sector: UK government departments and agencies, local government, the emergency services and specialist deliverers such as the health sector. It includes everyone from new entrants through to the members of the Chief Information Officer Council.

 The Society of Information Technology Management (link) was founded in 1986 as the professional association for ICT managers working in and for the public sector. Members are drawn primarily from local authorities but also from the police and fire services, housing authorities and other locally delivered public service.

Managers or consultants from organisations supplying ICT products and services to the public sector, or which support public services in other ways, may also join the Society.

 This report makes recommendations to the government and confines itself to the Government IT profession but we would encourage SOCITM to behave in a similar way.

Recommendation

 The Government IT Profession initiative – which covers the whole public sector – should specifically develop skills and cultures for IT professionals needed to support the implementation of this report.  In particular, skills relating to the web, re-use of information including data mashing and delivering modern web functionality.



RSS feed of comments 6 Responses to “IT Profession Skills”

  1. Tony Hirst says:

    Useful skills include:
    – the ability to query public APIs and manipulate data returned using popular, lightweight data formats such as RSS and JSON;
    - the ability to use third party tools and services, particularly in respect of visualisation tools which are likely to become an increasingly important way of deriving meaning from large data sets;
    - familiarity with modern web design principles and web design patterns, along with accessibility guidelines; familiarity with web development productivity tools such best-of-breed Javascript and CSS libraries.

  2. This is a very important but broad area with quite a narrow recommendation.

    Based on the Taskforce’s research, what skills and in what specific areas are required?

  3. Phil McAllister says:

    I find the idea of a separate professional body for UK Gov Web professionals would sit better with me, as I don’t regard myself as an IT professional. The role encompasses so much more than that.

    As for the best way to equip us for our jobs, I find that those who are engaged enough to want to learn are already getting together and learning from each other, e.g. amongst others UK Gov Web BarCamp and related online & offline forums.

  4. Sebastian Crump says:

    I too think that this recommendation is a little weak and agree with Phil that web/e-comms people are more likely to align themselves with GCN, rather than Gov IT network (although they’re only on half of that ’stool’ too, so in danger of falling between them).

    If there is not the appetite for a separate professional body then perhaps trying to force/split into Gov IT network/SOCITM/GCN a different approach entirely is needed? If there were more genuine sharing and movement around these roles between depts everyone should benefit.

    In another section someone commented about having a roving team of experts – perhaps this recommendation could adapt that idea into a static team of experts that rotate in an out of departments as needed and can be a centre of excellence increasing the knowledge and expertise all round. This could be Cab Office/COI/OPSI (or preferably wherever the relevant functions of these are consolidated/centralised – sorry to keep banging on about that point :)

  5. Julia Chandler says:

    My comment echoes Phil and Sebastian, and adds some thoughts. While recommendations 21 and 23 are welcome, they dont cover the large and growing community of people who work in web teams across the public sector, who dont come from an IT background. I know there has been talk recently (involving SOCITM and GCN) about developing a community to provide a professional network with skills framework and consistent terminology. I would like to see Cabinet Office supporting this initiative – it would fill in the gap betwen the two recommendations.

    I also echo Sebastian’s idea about “roving experts” – there is a lot of good knowledge sharing already goes on between a group of people – but it would be good to inject even more flexibility into this whereby perhaps people could be released for short term secondments – even a couple of days could be really useful to enable expertise and experience to be shared.

  6. Phil McAllister says:

    I made the roving expert comment with regard to usability criteria earlier (http://poit.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/poit/2009/01/government-websites-should-meet-basic-usability-criteria/) but can see how in some cases it would be useful for a more broad range of topics.

    I would, however, still argue for a specific usability team.