Creating more agile organisations requires a level playing field, so what can the public sector gain from new approaches in higher education? Kim Whitmore from the Agile Business Consortium explains more
When it comes to training for #GenerationAgile and beyond, the pace of change and the need for adaptability and innovation have made agile working and business agility essential skills for all aspects of business and commercial life. However, most professional agile accreditations are designed for practitioners already in the workplace, working in agile teams.
A short course and qualification were needed to offer agile beginners an overview of agile principles and practices; one that would improve their employability and act as a foundation for further career development.
Early education in agile knowledge and skills is the objective of the Agile Business Consortium’s campaign for Generation Agile. Offering agile training to students through University-based programmes is an effective way to deliver valuable knowledge before young people enter the workplace. However, the same training and approach are also suitable for those already in work who have little agile knowledge – whatever stage of career they’re in.
The academia/workplace divide
“Today’s workplace is highly competitive,” states Dr Islam Choudhury, Associate Professor at Kingston University and Director of the Agile Business Consortium.
“Kingston University has worked with the Agile Business Consortium to design this new programme to give students and professionals the understanding and vocabulary they need to talk confidently about agility and demonstrate that they have the mindset and attitude to create success in the workplace.
“It’s valuable to have short, focused training to introduce agile as practised in industry. Agile Practices provides this as a standalone certification course where attendees engage in interactive teaching sessions and workshops. This increases their knowledge, understanding, authority and credibility with various agile approaches.
“Agile is gaining increasing traction in public and private sectors alike”, Islam affirms, “The education system must prepare people to be effective in the workplace and deliver the skills that industry needs and the marketplace demands. This Agile Practices course is an important step towards closing the gap between education and industry.
“The course content for this certification can be delivered in a variety of ways – it is itself very agile. It can be absorbed into scheduled teaching time and spread over a semester for those in education, or it can be taught in a couple of fast-track intensive days. Each university or organisation can decide what works best within their teaching/learning and development system.”
Kingston and Westminster universities leading the way
The Agile Practices certification now sits alongside AgilePM® as part of the learning portfolio developed at the Agile Business Consortium and over 500 students have now achieved the Agile Practices Foundation Certificate through Kingston and Westminster universities, with an average pass rate of over 80%.
Islam continues, “I believe that Agile Practices equips the agilists of tomorrow to think outside the box and build for themselves a practical and effective agile toolkit. It also offers a broad base from which to move forward to study other agile certifications and a practical baseline of knowledge for organisations to utilise.”
Dr Nadia Amin is Principal Lecturer in Information Management at Westminster Business School. She introduced the Agile Practices exam for the first time in 2018. “Agility is now a mainstream business skill and we are making our agile project module compulsory from 2020. We believe that supporting students to gain a good understanding of business agility and agile methods will improve their employability. We need to equip people not only to understand different agile frameworks but to be able to develop further to create hybrid methods and solutions in practice.
“Our experience with the Agile Practices certification is that attendees value the broad learning it offers. It also helps that the exam mimics the format of other professional exams, so attendees are well prepared for further study in the workplace.
Agility for all sectors
“Businesses and public sector organisations in the future will have a growing need to be agile”, Islam affirms. “This course provides a life skill that will be valuable for students of all disciplines. My students that have moved into roles as wide-ranging as teaching or marketing have told me how useful this grounding in agile has been for them.
“Agile Practices offers a way to move forward when your workload feels overwhelming. When change is rapid, we need constant adaptation, incremental progress and to benefit from transparency and the drive for continual improvement. We need to be able to stand back and review what we have done objectively, to accept feedback and move forward to make our results even stronger.
“In today’s world, we simply cannot do everything in one go. Agile Practices helps students and employees to see change as a benefit, rather than a whirlwind of loss.”
Between the main agile approaches of XP, AgilePM, Scrum, Kanban and SAFe, the terminology alone is confusing. Gaining an understanding of these concepts is essential in an increasingly agile working world.
Availability in the workplace
Following successful delivery at Kingston and Westminster Universities, Agile Practices is now available for delivery by training organisations and learning and development departments by agreement with Agile Business Consortium and is being very positively received.
In fitting with the Consortium’s mission to lead, support and enable business agility worldwide, the financial barrier to entry is low, with Consortium members being charged just £60 for the exam. Non-members pay £75.
If you are interested in taking Agile Practices or offering it through your organisation, you can find out more at agilebusiness.org/agilepractices.
*Please note: This is a commercial profile
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The Agile Business Consortium
At the Agile Business Consortium we are continuing to establish ourselves as the ‘go to’ people for any business, government organisation or charity interested in Agile Business Change. Why join us? Today’s constantly changing business environment requires public-sector bodies, private organisations, and individuals to be more agile if they want to succeed. Our role is […]