NZ Government makes the Skills Framework for the Information Age accessible to all New Zealanders

New Zealand has joined Australia in agreeing on a whole country licence for using the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA). This means everyone based in New Zealand can now use SFIA.

The New Zealand Government has established a national license, led by a partnership between the Digital Public Service Branch (DPS) and the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation (MBIE). The agreement covers the use of SFIA by public and private sector organisations, educational institutions, not-for-profits and individuals. In fact, everyone who calls New Zealand home!

Some special conditions exist for multinational organisations and those making a profit incorporating SFIA into their products and services. However, in general, the use of SFIA in New Zealand is now free.

SFIA is a global framework describing the skills and competencies professionals need in information and communication technologies (ICT), software engineering and digital transformation. It was developed in the United Kingdom, is now used worldwide, and has been translated into 11 languages. There has been widespread use of SFIA within the New Zealand Public Services for many years in their workforce planning and development, recruitment, human resource management, and skill recognition processes for several years. Examples include:

  • Ministry of Social Development, Stats NZ, Ministry for Primary Industries, and Ministry of Education use SFIA to describe digital skills and competencies required by professionals in roles within their organisations.
  • The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research has developed a position description generator using the SFIA framework.

The deal is a component of the skills pipeline workstream within the Digital Technologies Industry Transformation Plan (DITP). The DITP articulates a long-term vision for the technology sector in New Zealand and an action plan to help move towards that vision.

The aim of the skills pipeline workstream is to “ensure the sector can attract the skills it needs to grow, at all levels, and that it is creating high-quality jobs and careers for all New Zealanders, including those currently under-represented groups.”

Several other essential initiatives were already being progressed in the education sector, such as the refresh of the Data and Digital strategy for learning, the establishment of Workforce Development Councils, Te Pūkenga, and the review of Achievement Standards.

Exploring current vacancies for relevant roles highlights the disparate ways New Zealand public sector organisations define and recruit for digital skills. One key objective, therefore, to be achieved through the agreement of a whole-of-country SFIA licence is to address the challenge of the many ill-defined roles across the public and private sectors in New Zealand.

SFIA will provide a common reference point to develop the New Zealand digital workforce. It is a practical resource that:

  • provides a framework consisting of a standard for professional digital skills
  • describes 121 professional skills at various levels of competency
  • describes the levels of responsibility in terms of autonomy, influence complexity, knowledge and business skills

The framework has become a global standard, updated frequently to remain relevant, ensuring it continues to align with the needs of individuals, industry, business, and current thinking.

Within Australia, SFIA is coordinated by the Digital Transformation Agency under the brand SFIA-AU. It is being leveraged to help organisations to:

  • Organise and plan your digital workforce. For example, design a workforce strategy, and identify what skills you have in-house.
  • Acquire the right talent by providing a detailed role-specific description of the skills and levels needed to do a specific role.
  • Uncover skills gaps and identify subject matter experts in your team. Enabling the ability to deploy staff into areas of need, for example, deploying staff to assist with a national health emergency.
  • Develop an organisation’s workforce by defining career paths and assisting with learning and development strategies to support development.
  • Recognise and reward staff by tracking their development so they can be supported through secondments and other opportunities.

Currently, MBIE is working closely with the IT Professionals NZ (ITP) and NZTech to leverage the partnerships established through the DITP, to deploy the framework through its membership. In addition, the Digital Public Services branch is engaging further with Public Service organisations to support their use of SFIA.