Open University Blazes A Path To Help Create CIOs

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The Open University is helping potential CIOs towards their chosen career and a seat in the boardroom

The Open University has licensed the International Data Group (IDG) CIO Executive Council’s Pathways competency framework to give potential /it managers a route from IT staff to board level.

Kevin Streater, executive director for IT and telecom at the Open University, unveiled the new programme, designed to create new chief information officers (CIOs) at the Westminster Skills e-forum event on 9 February.

Addressing The Growing Shortage Of IT Professionals

“It’s not one specific course for CIOs,” he told eWEEK Europe UK. “The Open University has mapped its current courses, across its computing and business faculties, to stack up with competencies identified by the CIO Executive Council. It’s a case of taking units and modules from other courses and showing how relevant they are to this particular audience.”

The programme has been adopted to address the rapidly growing need for qualified IT managers. Reed’s annual job index showed that the UK’s need for IT professionals has risen by 23 percent over the past year. In addition, e-Skills UK estimates that the number of IT and telecom professionals will grow at four times the rate of other sectors. According to the Open University, this demonstrates that the educational opportunities are there if candidates can be directed to the correct courses.

Pathways is a professional development programme that brings together best practices, thought leadership and group mentoring. The IDG course was developed in conjunction with Egon Zehnder International, a global talent assessment and recruitment firm, and the IDG Executive Council’s CIO membership to determine the core competencies that contribute towards a technology executive’s success.

This framework has been mapped against the Open University’s online teaching faculties to allow potential IT leaders the flexibility to chart their own path according to their personal career aspirations and goals.

The IDG Pathways programme begins with an online Future-State CIO self- and peer-assessment tool that helps students to identify their strengths and weaknesses across nine essential competencies. The tool can be used at key points in the programme to fine-tune progress during the learning process

“They may start with IT-specific courses and supplement it with management training as they progress in their careers,” said Streater. “By the time they reach board level, they will have the necessary skill-set to create strategic business value.”

The two programmes mesh well together because they are both based on supported distance learning, said Streater. This means learning can be flexible so it does not impinge on other work commitments. The university programme adds to this its own face to face and phone contact with Open University tutors and students are encouraged to contact their peer group through online social tools.

Streater describes the new curriculum as being well-suited to IT staff. “In many ways the Open University has grown up with the technology industry and it has been a pioneer in using technology to maximise the impact of learning for many years – people in the IT industry are comfortable with and appreciate the way that the Open University delivers its training,” he said.

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