FAQ’s: Applying the e-CF
A growing number of companies, trade unions, qualification & certification providers, researchers, ministries and policy makers etc. from France, Germany, Italy, Estonia, Spain, Hungary, Bulgaria, The Netherlands, Canada, Malta, Belgium, Russia and at EU level are routinely using the e-CF as an HR planning and development tool. Some of the current users were involved in the mentioned e-CF development and updating process, other users adopted the e-CF as an established product for use in their specific environment. For detailed examples see here.
Complementarily, the European e-Competence Framework is a reference base of a number of EU project initiatives inside and outside of the CEN context; e.g. the CEN ICT Skills Workshop Projects e-CF into SME’s, European ICT Professional Profiles, e-Certification in Europe, Digital Profiles for the Mediterranean area, and a number of strategic studies around e-Skills and IT Professionalism in a long-term launched by the European Commission.
What are the e-CF target groups?
The e-CF was designed for any person or organisation dealing with IT skills and competence planning, creation and/ or development. It was initially developed by the European IT business community, but it also addresses the needs of IT educational institutions and other European stakeholders.
I am using an older version of the e-CF – how do I adapt to the most recent version?
There is a need for regular (2-3 year) updates of the e-CF. Updates consist of maintenance activities, such as word changes to clarify meanings or incorporate additional examples, borne out of experience, that are incorporated with minimum impact to adopters of earlier e-CF versions.
Where new framework content is required, it is added to the already existing framework, for instance as a new competence. The principle adopted here is to keep deletions from the framework to the relevant minimum, even if some material may become redundant. Users are therefore not forced into using the latest version but can opt to do so as required.
I would like to introduce the e-CF in my organisation, and I need technical support. Who can help me?
The e-CF has been created on a technical level by experts from across Europe with deep know-how in the field. A systematically established network of e-CF advising experts and consultants does not, as yet, exist. However, if a specific e-CF advise is required, please contact us and we will initiate efforts to provide appropriate expertise.
Can I use the e-CF to measure and assess competences?
Yes, this is one of the application possibilities of the framework. Several assessment tools have been developed up to now, for different purposes, using the e-CF as a basic reference. Development of assessment tools does not incur a license fee.
Is the e-CF suitable for SMEs and micro enterprises
The e-CF was developed with a focus on multinational enterprises, however, within the version 3.0 the perspective of small and medium sized enterprises has been incorporated explicitly. An example includes the new competence D.11 ‘Needs Identification’. For further e-CF application guidance specifically addressed to SME’s, see e-CF case studies C, D and E and the e-CF user guide, chapter 4.
No, absolutely not. The e-CF was developed as a European ‘umbrella structure’ that enables other regional or national IT frameworks to readily adapt to it. Used in this way, the e-CF can provide a translation between different IT frameworks.
However, the e-CF is frequently used as a valuable stand-alone tool for new users who wish to relate directly to a European framework.
Concerning e-CF based assessment, is there a common set of assessment indicators?
Not yet. However, if a common language for ICT competence assessment is established this should also include agreement on assessment indicators that could be used by applications developed to support competence identification. The competence descriptions are written in terms of “observable results” and therefore they just need to be made explicit and shared.
May I adapt the e-CF to my organisation’s own needs, and, if so, may I still say that my organisation is in line with the European e-competence approach?
The e-CF is a flexible tool, and not intended to become a strait jacket or demand strict compliance. It has been developed to support industry, education and all interested stakeholders and if they are able to use the e-CF more effectively by making changes to fit their needs then this is a positive outcome. It is not necessary to inform any organization about internally applied adaptions of the e-CF, however, it may be useful to other e-CF users if feedback is provided so that they may benefit from this additional experience.
Stating that an organisations approach is compliant with the e-CF in these circumstances should be qualified with a short comment that ‘some modifications to the e-CF have been employed to address organisational needs’.
It is encouraged that any changes are sympathetic to the origins and structure of the e-CF.
I disagree with a specific item in the e-CF. How do I influence a change?
The feedback collection phase for technical e-CF updating work towards a version 4.0 will be announced on time. You are encouraged to contribute. Please contact the e-CF project team leader for providing your specific suggestions.
The simple answer is both. The e-CF has four dimensions, with dimension 1 and 2 based upon organisational processes and therefore organisational competences. Dimension 3 defines levels of capability and in consequence encompasses the concept of attitude, which is a personal attribute. Level 3 therefore provides a bridge between organisational competence and personal competence. Level four addresses knowledge and skills required of individuals. Therefore, across the four dimensions of the e-CF both organisational and individual competences are reflected.
Why does the e-CF have 5 levels when the EQF has 8?
The e-CF was developed from an employer’s perspective by adding value to workplace competence articulation. The origins of the e-CF are grounded in a workplace environment and reflect workplace processes and organisational structures. Organisations seek to simplify structures and in recent years have commonly reduced career structures to the minimum. Five levels were identified that adequately covered the span of IT professional activities and reflected competences within IT professional roles.
While the EQF levels 1 and 2 were not considered as they were lower than any IT professional activity, levels 4 and 5 were merged into one as in work practice the differentiation was not deemed relevant. The EQF is a qualification structure that reflects a broader population including pre-work students and therefore contains more levels.
To enable a simple reference between the five levels of the e-CF and the eight levels of the EQF a matrix has been provided and can be viewed here.