PLATFORM: Time to recognise IT professionalism

How often do you see an advertisement or address the selection criteria for a professional IT position which has a requirement that the candidate must be a member of the Australian Computer Society or be eligible to join the Society as a member?

Not very often!

But if you wish to apply for a professional engineering position you must meet the first mandatory eligibility criterion, which is to be a member of the Institute of Engineers or be eligible to join the institute as a member.

Why the distinction? There are significant differences between an engineer and a computing professional, particularly in how they are viewed by society, how they gain their qualifications and the level of their body of knowledge.

A computing professional -- is it somebody who has completed a three- or four-year computing degree at university, is it someone who has finished a Microsoft Certified Engineer course, or is it a person who for the past 10 years has been practising in the industry after being self taught?

Employers know how to go about hiring an engineer, but often don't understand how to measure computer literacy and technical competence when recruiting a computing professional.

By selecting an ACS member when hiring a computer professional, an employer can be guaranteed the candidate has a core body of knowledge and is committed to a code of professional conduct and professional practice.

The core body of knowledge implies that the IT professional has an approved tertiary qualification, with relevant experience; abides by the ACS Code of Ethics; acknowledges an acceptance of personal liability; is committed to continuing professional development; and has a licence or certificate to practise.

ACS members, through the code of professional conduct and professional practice, are committed to high standards of professional conduct. Members are required at all times to maintain standards of conduct worthy of IT professionals. By doing so, they enhance their personal stature as professionals and help maintain the credibility and prestige of the IT profession as a whole.

At this stage, it is not a requirement to include "Member of the Australian Computer Society or eligible to join the Society as a member" in advertisements or selection criterion for professional IT positions.

As an ACS member, if you are involved in the selection process, please consider selecting an ACS member when making your hiring decisions. You can also ask your Human Resource department to include ACS membership as an essential eligibility requirement for hiring IT professionals.

Peter Kalkman is Chair of the Canberra branch of the ACS, in which role he is seeking to further promote the vision, mission and objects of the Society. He has been involved in the ACS since 1988, and in 1997 was the programs and conference coordinator.

Peter holds a degree in computing (double major in computing) from the Canberra University, where he also has tutored in information systems, computer audit and security, database systems and computer management.

He currently works for the Attorney General's Department in Canberra as Director, Computer Systems and Support, managing the organisation's computing services group, which is responsible for a worldwide computing infrastructure.

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