CXO

CIOs back call for common skills scheme

CIO Jury: IT heads want CV filter

CIOs have broadly set themselves behind the call for a common accreditation scheme for IT professionals, similar to qualifications required by doctors, lawyers, accountants and surveyors, the latest CIO Jury poll has found.

The latest call for such a scheme has been put out by e-skills UK, the government licensed skills council for IT and telecoms.

Speaking to silicon.com in response to the government's green light for a National Skills Academy for IT, e-skills UK CEO Karen Price suggested there is a need for a common accreditation scheme to help employers identify the best applicants.

She said: "Certainly all conversations we have with employers - particularly the CIOs - they'll say to me 'look, I get CVs in and I really find it impossible to distinguish between the multiple CVs I get in. If I could have it organised and accredited in a certain way it'd make a huge difference' so I think there is appetite out there for that."

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CIOs voted in favour of such a scheme eight to four, with CIOs in the 'no' lobby mainly objecting to a common IT accreditation on the grounds the breadth of the discipline would make one qualification too general to be of use.

Neil Bath, group head of information services, Brewin Dolphin Securities said: "It is really the experience and projects that candidates have been involved in that count. Accreditation is just a very quick guide to level."

The question of common accreditation, or an IT professional's charter, has been raised by a number of industry societies and employer focus groups, illustrating the demand for such a qualification but the lack of a coherent lobby to establish one - highlighted by a range of CIOs' responses, even in the 'yes' camp.

Rob Neil, head of ICT services, Ashford Borough Council said: "It's a yes vote for a common accreditation scheme but no to a National Skills Academy."

Mike Buck, architecture manager, Yorkshire Water agreed to the need for a common accreditation but believes there's more work to be done.

"Professionalism is a big issue. The BCS [British Computer Society] is doing well with accreditation but they must make it more valuable and more relevant," he said.

Although in favour of a common IT accreditation, Steve Clarke, systems and operations director, AOL Broadband argued it would still be one of many achievements he would look for in a potential employee.

"Accreditation is pretty much limited to the technical skills set which is only one facet of a candidate's capabilities. Accreditation on attitude, perseverance, team-work, time-keeping, motivation, etc, etc is impossible and yet these are the traits that mark out the exceptional candidate, not their technical skills," he said.

Russell Altendorf, director of ISD, London Business School applauded the initiative to set up a National Skills Academy for IT but doubted it could become the custodian of a common accreditation he could use to hire senior professionals.

He said: "It won't address the plight of the IT director when trying to distinguish CVs from experienced IT people. That can only be fixed by better professional standards amongst recruitment companies themselves.

The aim of the government is to plug the numbers gap between the 140k vacancies and the 12k IT graduates per annum. This funding is aimed at reskilling and up skilling across the workforce. So if it is effective, it should increase new entrants into the IT sector rather than improve the CVs or knowledge of people already in the sector."

Today's CIO Jury was:

  • Russell Altendorff, director of ISD, London Business School
  • Neil Bath, group head of information services, Brewin Dolphin Securities
  • Alastair Behenna, CIO, Harvey Nash
  • Mike Buck, architecture manager, Yorkshire Water
  • Steve Clarke, systems and operations director, AOL Broadband
  • Pete Crowe, IT director, Fat Face
  • Steve Gediking, head of IT and facilities, Independent Police Complaints Commission
  • Paul Haley, IT director, Aberdeen University
  • Tony Johnson, IT director, Zavvi
  • Rob Neil, head of ICT services, Ashford Borough Council
  • Mark Saysell, IT director, Creo Retail Marketing
  • Steve Williams, director of information systems and services, Newcastle University

Want to be part of silicon.com's CIO Jury and have your say on the hot issues for IT departments? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and you want to be part of silicon.com's CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should be, then drop us a line at editorial@silicon.com

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