’It’s all about professionalism and promoting the IT industry,’ says Mark Lainé. A seasoned IT professional himself, Head of Information Systems at Generali in Guernsey, Mark doubles as the chairman of the local branch of the British Computer Society (BCS). The society has some 60,000 members worldwide and Mark is one of just 10 chartered members in Guernsey.
’Business can’t move forward without input from IT,’ he says simply. ’IT is the enabler for everything else. Business was slow to grasp that, but now companies are spending a lot of money on their IT systems.’
While the technology has accelerated at breathtaking speed, with each major advance eagerly swallowed by a world constantly demanding the ultimate, without knowing exactly what that is, the IT industry has had to take deliberate steps to create a framework to give shape and order to what might otherwise be a virtual rollercoaster.
Part of this process was the establishment of the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA), with BCS being instrumental in its creation. As described on its own website, SFIA ’provides a common reference model for the identification of the skills needed to develop effective information systems (IS) making use of information communications technologies (ICT)’.
Mark Laine puts it more simply: ’It helps us to develop job descriptions and to develop people.’
While Generali is a long-established company dealing with very real and very serious issues in the insurance world, if you go to the website Second Life you can now find Generali Virtual, also known as Generali Island. The idea, as stated on the site, is ’to engage with the SL community and explore the nature and "insurability" of risk in virtual worlds, as well as to interactively promote the group’s image and business.’
It also aims to ’experiment with new insurance-related services relevant to a world where connectivity and virtuality become dominant features: insuring virtual risks in reality and real risks in virtuality.’
Meanwhile, back in Guernsey, despite the schools and the College of Further Education’s best efforts, the island is not exactly flooded with highly qualified IT personnel, and people like Mark are increasingly turning to Andrew Cullen of AP Technical in their search for staff. ’The students just seem to disappear,’ he says. There is still not the pool of available talent that he would like to see, although he points out that new-arrival companies such as those in the online gaming field, absorb talent too. The more successful Guernsey is at attracting businesses, the more thinly the talent is spread.