The first task of the committee was to diminish the variety in human language in job-offer texts, CVs, textbooks, curricula, etc. For that purpose, the e-CF framework has been developed, and has become a standard in Europe in 2016. For the ICT-professionals, the standard provides a uniform, independent and objective language to express current Digital Skills. For management, it produces transparency in job descriptions, job offers, CVs, curricula, textbooks and training materials. The Dutch committee has been, and still is, actively participating in creation and implementation of this independent and objective environment, helping organisations and professionals make informed decisions to efficiently meet the needs of individuals, organisations and the society as a whole.

The fact that e-CF has become a standard in Europe to describe digital competences can provide technological, economic and societal benefits. It helps to harmonize technical specifications of products and services, making business more efficient, and breaking down barriers to trade. Conformity to European Standards also helps to reassure consumers that products are safe to use and that they respect the environment. With our work in the Dutch standardization committee ‘ICT professionalism and digital skills’, we support these values and play an increasingly important role in the marketplace.

Our target groups are: ICT professionals, HR-ICT departments, Sourcing / recruitment, Training providers, publishers of ICT literature, exam institutes and CIOs from public and private organisations. Our National contributions are: collaboration with various stakeholders, promotional activities and social media communications, newsletters about ICT standardization, NEN-organized an information meeting on the e-Competence Framework in 2017 for a large group of stakeholders, answering questions of organizations on using and implementing e-CF, and stimulating innovations.

The committee reached out in various ways to participate and increase knowledge on digital skills. We actively participated in CEN TC/428, the European technical committee in which the standards are created, the TC/428 ad-hoc groups and the Expert Group to update e-CF to the latest 4.0 version. Our chairman participated in the ad-hoc groups in person, working on proposals for ethics in the ICT work field. We were actively involved in the interaction between e-CF and SFIA, and worked together with the Security platform: Platform Informatiebeveiliging (PvIB).

Furthermore, we collaborated with Enterprise and Solution Architecture: ArchiCoach / The Future Group and Royal Dutch Society of Informatics professionals (KNVI): promotion of Digital Skills via a Special Interest Group and membership of IT Professionalism Europe (ITPE). We are member of the Dutch Blockchain Coalition for the Human Capital Agenda and the first European member of IP3, an IFIP committee looking at Professional Practice Partnership. We stimulate exam institutes and education providers to map their content to e-CF and participate in the research about the practical application of e-CF in organisations and government procurement through HU University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht.

We will continue our efforts in the years to come. In November this year, we have a creative brainstorming planned for the formulation of our 2019 work program. One of the aims will be to further advocate our activities, and increase awareness of those activities in the Netherlands. For this, we will use all media available to us. The more stakeholders are involved and knowledgeable of the digital skills and competences, the more our standards will do what they are designed for: support the ICT professionals.

Success factors

Since 2014, the chair of the Dutch committee ICT professionalism and digital skills went to all the international meetings in which the e-Competences Framework was created a standard. All members of the committee delivered input to the document. It is impossible to know all the organizations that use the framework today, but we know that consultancies, educational programs, recruiters, trainers, and, of course, IT professionals themselves use the framework to their advantage.

It helps professionals state clearly what skills and competences they have. It helps employers formulate the needs they have in professionals. Then recruiters make the match between professionals and employers. Consultancies use the framework to help organizations review the skills they have in-house and the skills they will further need, so that HR-departments can help professionals to develop specific skills to meet those needs. In addition, educators use the framework to make sure they school their students to the terminology used in the field as well as making visual that skilled students need to develop for different fields within the IT sector.

This endeavor is unique in the Netherlands: there is no more complete IT skills and competences framework than the one the committee helped draft. It is also unique in the broad use of the framework. And this will become even broader as the committee extends their expertise towards topics such as ethics, education, certification, and specific competences.

A key sustainability factor is the fact that the standard will be regularly reviewed internationally, with the input of the Dutch committee. In fact, the standard is under revision right now and the aim is to increasingly meet the needs of all stakeholders involved. The broad support for the framework and other standardization activities is what helps it to be sustainable for the long term.

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Bramjan Mulder