The European e-Competence Framework (e-CF) was established as a tool to support mutual understanding and provide transparency of language through the articulation of competences required and deployed by ICT professionals (including both practitioners and managers – see definitions adopted by the European e-Skills Forum).
To support framework users and guide developers of e-CF applications, the following narrative provides an overview of the underpinning philosophy and principles adopted during e-CF construction and successive updates.
The Guiding Principles
- The e-CF is an enabler; it is designed to be a tool to empower users, not to restrict them. The e-CF provides a structure and content for application by many types of users from organizations in the private and public sector, ICT user or ICT supply companies, educational institutions including higher education and private certification providers, social partners and individuals. In this broad application context, the e-CF is designed to support common understanding, not to mandate the use of each and every word used within the e-CF.
- The e-CF expresses ICT competence using the following definition: ‘Competence is a demonstrated ability to apply knowledge, skills and attitudes for achieving observable results’. This is a holistic concept directly related to workplace activities and incorporating complex human behaviours expressed as embedded attitudes
- Competence is a durable concept and although technology, jobs, marketing terminology and promotional concepts within the ICT environment change rapidly, the e-CF remains durable requiring maintenance approximately every three years to maintain relevance.
- A competence can be a component of a job role, but it cannot be used as a substitute for similarly named job titles, for example; the competence, D.7. ‘Sales Management’ does not represent the complete content of a ‘Sales Manager’ job role. Competences can be aggregated, as required, to represent the essential content of a job role or profile. On the other hand, one single competence may be assigned to a number of different job profiles.
- Competence is not to be confused with process or technology concepts such as, ‘Cloud Computing’ or ‘Big Data’. These descriptions represent evolving technologies and in the context of the e-CF, they may be integrated as elements within knowledge and skill examples.
- The e-CF does not attempt to cover every possible competence deployed by an ICT professional or ICT manager nor are the included competences necessarily unique to ICT. The e-CF articulates competences associated with ICT professional roles including some that may be found in other professions but are very important in an ICT context; examples include, C.4 ‘Problem Management’ or E.3 ‘Risk Management’. However, to maintain an ICT focus, the e-CF avoids generic competences such as ‘Communications or General Management’ although very applicable these transversal competences are comprehensively articulated in other structures. Selecting competences for inclusion within the e-CF is therefore, not a scientific choice, but a pragmatic process engaging a broad cross-section of stakeholders who prioritise competence inclusion based upon industry knowledge and experience.
- The e-CF is structured from four dimensions. e-competences in dimension 1 and 2 are presented from the organisational perspective as opposed to from an individual’s perspective. Dimension 3 which defines e-competence levels related to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), is a bridge between organisational and individual competences.
- The e-CF has a sector specific relationship to the EQF; competence levels within the e-CF provide a consistent and rational relationship to levels defined within the EQF. The relativity between EQF learning levels and e-CF competence levels has been systematically developed to enable consistent interpretation of the EQF in the ICT workplace environment.
- Continuity of the e-CF is imperative; following maintenance updates it is essential that users are provided with a simple upgrade path. e-CF users invest considerable time and resources to align processes or procedures with the e-CF. Organisations deploying these downstream activities are reliant upon the e-CF and need to be confident of the continued sustainability of their processes. Updates of the e-CF must recognise this requirement and provide for continuity enabling use of the existing e-CF version until it is convenient to upgrade to the latest version.
- The e-CF is neutral and open; it does not follow the specific interests of a few major influencers, it is developed and maintained through an EU-wide balanced multi-stakeholder agreement process, under the umbrella of the European Committee for Standardization. The e-CF is a key component of the European Commission’s Digital Agenda; it is designed for use by any organisation engaged in ICT Human Resource planning and competence development.