The Department of Defence’s procurement and sustainment arm, CASG, has over 2000 personnel in the Engineering and Technical (E&T) Function. The ongoing development and professionalisation of this workforce have traditionally been conducted in an inconsistent manner and, in order to correct this, requires a systemised method of building competencies and assurance of roles.
The CASG tasked a SkillsLogiQ / Quintessential partnership to develop an Engineering & Technical Competency Framework (ETCF) to:
- Provide a common standard for the staff performance of the CASG E&T function, and
- Improve effectiveness of future workforce planning in an environment of high demand for competent engineering and technical professionals.
The ETCF was to provide a role-specific description of the competencies required to perform the E&T job function comprising Skills, Knowledge and Behaviours that are aligned with the Defence Personnel Group (DPG) Occupation Job Skills and also One Defence Behaviours.
In addition to being an aid for general E&T workforce development, the project was also relevant to two functional communities:
i) The engineering job family itself as an aid in developing and maintaining their own competencies; and,
ii) Technical staff without formal engineering qualification who possess an equivalent level of skills and experience.
The ETCF was developed in a staged process of:
- Analysis: the systematic analysis of all relevant competency models, frameworks and Systems Engineering Bodies of Knowledge (SEBoK) applicable to the E&T Function, including benchmark frameworks from:
- UK Ministry of Defence (Mod)
- US Navy
- Defense Acquisition University (DAU)
- Engineers Australia
- Synthesis: the critical analysis of specific requirements needed for effective conduct of the E&T Function from the CASG business perspective. In particular, this required identifying the key elements impacting E&T roles as applied to the CASG Defence operational context as well as the Engineering role in providing technical advice and facilitation across the project lifecycle. A key construct in this synthesis was the “Vee’ Model which incorporates the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook (INCOSE 2012) definition of life cycle stages and their purposes or activities.
- Sense-making: This phase involved the identification of high priority competencies essential for the Engineering function, matched to CASG functional requirements for identifying a rationalised competency set that provide a profile of the Competent Engineer. This involved a consolidation of all identified competencies viewed as being essential for effective Engineering and Technical job performance.
The E&T competencies were also aligned to professionalisation standards of Engineers Australia and consequently provided a clear pathway that builds towards Chartered Status within the profession. The ETCF also enabled non-Engineering staff, and the wider organisation, to understand the E&T job function and to have greater clarity of the support provided by E&T staff, particularly in the areas of technical advice and facilitation across the project lifecycle.
Subsequent activity involved the expansion of the ETCF framework by mapping it out to a SPO environment. It was expanded and contextually modified to encompass a range of functions to including Material Logistics (ML), Programs, Commercial and Corporate Support. Actual data was collected from several SPO environments. This enabled the competency requirements for each role to be compared to the competencies possessed by the role incumbents, thereby allowing for a gap analysis to be performed. Following a gap analysis, a Learning & Development strategy was devised in order to close the gaps between actual and desired states, with individualised learning plans created and implemented as part of a career pathway for professional development and growth.
The primary outcome of this activity was a detailed Competency Framework that enabled a detailed understanding of the building blocks of systems engineers in Defence. All research findings were detailed in a fully comprehensive report, which was also delivered in the form of a practical framework that could be applied to undertake a workforce analysis of existing SPO environments.
The benefits of the activity included:
- A comprehensive definition of a bespoke CASG E&T suite of competencies
- Alignment to Defence Personnel Group convention as part of their professionalisation pathways
- The ability to conduct a gap analysis between current and desired levels of competency for a CASG SPO environment
- Individualised professional development tool
- Ability relate competency gaps with existing training offerings within the Defence system
- An ability to identify and prioritise professional development priorities for the SPO workforce