The Open University (OU) has adopted a competency framework, designed to help students choose course units that will teach them how to become a CIO.

The framework, licenced from the CIO Executive Council (CEC), forms a learning plan enabling Senior IT professionals to propel themselves from the datacentre to the board, according to OU Executive director for IT and Telecom Kevin Streater.

The plan is not a discrete course, but provides a steer on which units available in OU courses best prepare candidates for the strategic IT role. These units are found in the universities MBA Msc and Open Masters courses relating to IT.

Competencies that are addressed by the plan include team orientation at the lower level, moving up to market knowledge, commercial orientation, customer focus, and up to strategic orientation at the highest level.

"We teach all these subjects today, but now they are being pushed out as key skills for anyone with ambitions to become a CIO," explained Streater.

The educational pathway addresses the need for organisations to develop home-grown talent, rather than only recruit for CIO positions from outside. It also addresses the requirement for business-aligned IT bosses to have come from an IT background, said Streater.

The methodology is highly applicable to the OU, he explained, because of the modular structure of its courses. Students gain credits for each unit they take within a course, gaining the qualification once enough credits have been collected.

"It's very hard for other universities to structure their courses this way," said Streater.

The framework was developed by canvassing the views of the CEC's 1,400 membership of IT leaders.