Assalamualaikum from Brunei|
by Paul Matthews, NZCS CEO
As mentioned in the previous Newsline I've spent much of the last week out of the country visiting Brunei (with a side-trip to Vietnam). I thought I'd take the opportunity to talk about some of the excellent experiences from this trip.
We visited Brunei at the invitation and as a guest of the Prime Minister’s Office of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam to run a two-day ICT skills workshop and associated meetings with Brunei government officials and other stakeholders. The intention was that this would be the first step in planning implementation of an ICT Skills competency framework in their country.
Some of the Workshop participants in Brunei
I was invited to run the workshop wearing a number of hats. Mainly, as the lead architect, planner, designer and implementer of New Zealand’s professional certification for IT professionals, ITCP, and associated initiatives. Also as CEO of NZCS of course, and as a Board Member of the international IP3 partnership (the body that promotes professionalism globally).
They were extremely impressed with the work that had gone into ITCP and associated projects by the NZCS team and community and were really interested in the SFIA Framework as a tool to assess and track the skills of ICT Professionals.
More Workshop participants in Brunei
There were several things that struck me about Brunei. The first was the genuine warmth and welcoming nature of the Bruneian people; not just those I met formally but also those I came across in the streets, at the airport, or while touring the city. The primarily Islamic nation has a very interesting and unique culture with significant elements lent from the Muslim, Asian and Western worlds. Brunei is known as The Abode of Peace, a very fitting title.
The workshop itself was an excellent experience, with most participants (around 40 leaders from across Brunei) truly engaged and engaging. The first day was primarily presentations on scope, various components of the SFIA Framework (skills framework underpinning ITCP), New Zealand’s ITCP Certification, the international concept of an IT Profession, plus details of many of the international initiatives and organisations such as IFIP, IP3 and the Seoul Accord.
This was effectively a huge “information dump”, and reminded me of the sheer volume of work that went into creating ITCP in New Zealand! How easy it is to forget how much went into getting that off the ground here.
Working through some of the content at the Brunei Workshop
The workshop was also one of the few times that stakeholders from throughout Brunei’s ICT sector (Government, Industry and Academia) had come together in this way, so was an excellent opportunity for them to outline the work and approach of each of their own areas, to ensure any plan would apply across the sector.
The second day started with a discussion focused on the academic community, then switched gears to look at how, given the information and experiences from New Zealand and the “building blocks” available around the world, things could potentially work in Brunei. What I found most compelling was how much the participants had taken in and how quickly they could use this to devise a high-level plan for their country.
Ex-pat Kiwi David Downs and NZCS CEO Paul Matthews at the Brunei Workshop
The end result is a plan for implementing something similar to ITCP in Brunei, with SFIA as the underlying framework. They’re especially keen to move forward on the mapping of courses and training (occurring in New Zealand too) and creating the whole package for skills development.
There was a lot more covered, of course, plus other excellent experiences in Brunei Darussalam too numerous to mention here. Suffice to say that it was a very worthwhile experience for everyone and it was excellent to have the opportunity to “pass forward” the support we've received to date from the international community – that's what it's all about.
Participants in Brunei ICT Skills Workshop
And the take-homes for me?
I thought it was truly excellent that a country like Brunei is looking to engage with the international community to develop a skills competency standard in their country. The trip also helped focus my understanding of what “building blocks” and support emerging countries need, which is something we'll definitely be taking back to IP3.
I was also thoroughly impressed by the sophistication of Brunei’s ICT sector. Sure, they absolutely need a competency framework and a number of other projects to develop the expertise and skills of their people, and sure, direct engagement with the international community and learning from the experiences in New Zealand and elsewhere will help build these competencies. But they really are a smart people, and I have no doubt they’ll grow and thrive and establish themselves as an international leader in ICT given half a chance – watch this space.
Lastly, I want to especially thank Mr Azhar from the Prime Minister’s Office for inviting us and Microsoft’s Singapore-based Director for South East Asia Services and ex-pat kiwi David Downs for facilitating the workshop and bringing it all together.
Two of the more prominent mosques in Brunei Darussalam
The side-trip to Vietnam was also fascinating, and great to catch up with family there. A lot to pack into one week away!
Until next time,
NZ Computer Society Inc
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Contributed content is the opinion of the author only, and not necessarily the view of IITP.