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ITU Centers of Excellence: developing human resource expertise for the ICT sector

Guiselle Mejía from Costa Rica has over 20 years working in the country's telecommunication industry.

Over the years she has witnessed a major transformation of the industry. Not only has the sector been opened up to competition bringing new players, but the convergence of various information and communication technologies has opened up new opportunities for business growth.

"In this rapidly evolving industry, the way we do business is also rapidly changing, and yesterday's business model may be irrelevant today," says Ms Mejía. "We too have to keep upgrading our business knowledge management skills and tools in order to continue to deliver quality services to our client base."

In January 2013, Ms Mejía enrolled for an online Postgraduate Programme in Telecommunications Strategic Management offered by the ITU Centers of Excellence. Spread over an 18 month period, the program's main objective was to train professionals in the telecommunication industry to upgrade their skills in strategic management as well as develop new business practices based on new technologies and new market opportunities.

"The programme was not only informative but very engaging," says Ms Mejía. "It covered topics that are very relevant in today's telecommunication industry among them project management, negotiation strategies, advantages and opportunities of new technologies, business communication, customer service and marketing. I benefited immensely from the programme acquiring fresh insights on how to work and develop products for a very competitive industry."

She adds that during the entire course participants had the opportunity to engage with counterparts from different parts of the world who shared experiences, challenges and strategies on how to remain competitive in the fast changing telecommunication industry. "This opportunity to share experiences with other people from different countries around the world was a great added advantage for me," she adds.

The Centers of Excellence (CoEs) programme is run by the Human Capacity Building Division of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT). The centers offer a wide and growing range of general and specialized courses on all aspects of telecommunications. Programmes are delivered face-to-face, as well as online through the ITU Academy e-learning platform. They are designed to equip an expanding number of people with the specialist knowledge and tools they require to find their way around the rapidly-evolving domain of ICTs and to use the skills and relevant technology in creating a knowledge society.

The CoE programme was launched in 2001 with the aim of strengthening human and institutional capacity in telecommunication and ICTs, initially in Africa and subsequently also in other emerging and developing regions.

Since then, thousands of professionals in the ICT sector have been trained across all regions through the global Centres of Excellence network.  In 2014, the centers held over 128 training sessions which saw over 4,400 ICT professionals trained through a combination of face-to-face and online training programmes.

In 2010, the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-10) adopted Resolution 73 which called for the programme to be continued and strengthened.

As a result, a study to review the Centers of Excellence was undertaken by BDT in 2014 which led to the adoption a new Centers of Excellence Strategy. The review recognized the positive role the centers have played in developing the much needed skills but noted that the training programmes need to be realigned to meet the needs of the rapidly evolving telecommunication sector.  

"Providing assistance in human and institutional capacity building continues to be a priority for ITU," said Mr Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau. "The new CoE strategy adopted by ITU provides an opportunity for renewal and revitalization of the concept, for the emergence of new ideas and objectives and for new ways of working that are attuned to current and future capacity-building needs of the ICT sector."

Following the sixth World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-14)  which took place in Dubai in 2014, ITU  Members were invited by the BDT Director to apply to become Centers of Excellence for the next four years in the priority areas including policy and regulation, broadband access and ICT applications and services, adopted by  the conference. A thorough, open and transparent selection process was undertaken based on the criteria outlined in the ITU Centers of Excellence: Strategic Review and Recommendations for the Future report.

A list of recommended centers were then submitted to the Group on Capacity Building Initiatives (GCBI) which met in Geneva in October 2014 to deliberate on the selection of the new Centers of Excellence  for the 2015-2018 period.

Following the selection of the new Centers of Excellence in November 2014, regional Steering Committees were established, in line with the new strategy and the related operational procedures. The Steering Committees will provide recommendations to ITU concerning the CoEs operations and ways of improving of CoEs performance, were established.

Regional Steering Committee meetings will be held during the months of February and March  2015.

The ITU Centres of Excellence offer more than 150 training opportunities mainly for top and middle level managers and engineers every year. Courses are offered in:

Business and Management:

Areas covered in this category include marketing management, human resource management, project management and Information Systems management.

Policy and Regulation:

Training is offered in telecommunication policy and regulation with a focus on privatization issues in telecommunications, competition and price regulation, law and policy for telecommunications, universal access, radio spectrum management, dispute resolutions, and new technologies.

Technologies and Services:

The training covers newly emerging systems and standards and a variety of services and applications.

Contact the ITU-D Human Capacity Building Division at hcbmail@itu.int.

To view the courses offered by the Centres of Excellence, interested participants must register here

Click here to download the list of selected Centres of Excellence for the 2015/2018 cycle.

Click here for more information on the Centers of Excellence.

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