The four building blocks of IT professionalism

A common body of knowledge and a competence framework are the minimum requirements for a profession to be recognised, says Mary Cleary
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19 May 2021

The European Commission has made an unprecedented commitment to the growth and sustainability of Europe, in the wake of Covid-19, and the Recovery & Resilience Facility provides a policy driven and funded plan to assist member states to emerge from the pandemic in a more favourable position than they entered it. Given the extent to which technology is embedded in our lives and economies, the digital aspects of the plan are central to this recovery, and 20% of all funds must be spent on the digital sector.

The IT profession drives the digital sector, and the recognition and respect that it attracts will be a measure of the digital recovery, and indeed sovereignty of Europe as we approach 2030 and lofty targets we aim to achieve within this ‘Digital Decade’.

The profession has made great advances in its short life, from the days when the early pioneers used their skill and creativity to innovate and produce wonderful things that changed our lives forever. However, as technology is so pervasive and mission critical for all things, personal, social, economic and environmental, it is time for some governance and standards to provide quality assured outputs and to generate trust and confidence in IT professionals.

Everyone knows that domain competence is essential for a professional in any field. A common body of knowledge and a competence framework are the minimum requirements for a profession to be recognised. IT professionalism is defined in these terms, and also aspires to adherence to a specific code of professional ethics, and standardised approaches to competence metrics and curriculum development.

There is a disparity in the level of maturity of these four building blocks of the IT profession, and there is insufficient integration among them. Developing an integrated IT professionalism framework consisting of these four pillars, creates a point of reference for all stakeholders in the digital world, orienting students in their education and careers, supporting education and training providers, and reassuring industry, government and public sector that they provide the right conditions to mature and promote greater IT professionalism, with ample digital talent and young incumbents and competitiveness. The IT professionals themselves are the key players, and their national professional bodies represent their distinct voices at the policy table and ensure that their professional status is recognised, maintained and influential.

This thriving young profession can deliver on the recovery and enhancement plans outlined by the European Commission, and with appropriate investment, new generations will be trained and workers from other industries re-skilled to join the IT professional workforce, leading to the 20 million aspired to by 2030. IT professionalism, and the adoption of the professional standards of competence, knowledge, ethics and education and training, can ensure that the new IT professionals are highly-skilled, ethical, diverse and welcoming.​

Mary Cleary is Secretary General of ICS

Professional Development for IT professionals

The mission of the Irish Computer Society is to advance, promote and represent the interests of ICT professionals in Ireland. Membership of the ICS typically reduces courses by 20%. Find out more

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