Professionalising the IT industry: towards the creation of a professional association.

Brady, Sean (2007) Professionalising the IT industry: towards the creation of a professional association. DProf thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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The main aim of the project is to develop a set of guidelines that will enable the current IT profession to evolve into one that can take its place along side the established professions in society today.
At this stage of the research we will use a working definition of a profession as ‘a vocation in which a professed knowledge of some department of learning or science is used in its application to the affairs of others or in the practice of an art founded upon it’ (Oxford English Dictionary).
This definition is endorsed by Carr-Saunders & Wilson (1964) who go on to further explain that ‘special competence acquired as a result of prolonged and specialised training, is the chief distinguishing characteristic of the professions’ and that ‘a profession can only be said to exist when there are bonds between practitioners, and these bonds can take but one shape – that of formal association’.
By understanding the core elements of what constitutes a profession and learning from the workings of other professions, I will identify the differences and unique elements of the IT profession and what lessons can be learnt to help enhance the professional status of IT. The impact of the IT industry and the relationship with other professions will be taken into account in defining the professional model for IT.
The main beneficiaries of the research will be those organisation and institutions interested in growing and cultivating the IT profession. The beneficiaries of the research will be:
• Computer Societies
There are many IT organisations working to represent the interest of IT professionals in each country. This research will help identify the differences between them and the elements of a professional body. It may well be that these organisations are the vehicle through which improvements can be made towards creating an IT profession.
• IT Industry
Companies (e.g. IBM) which have a vested interest in attracting, recruiting, motivating and retaining IT staff. It is also of key interest to them that their staff are well qualified, professional and works in an ethical manner. The increased attractiveness of IT as a career will benefit them while the improved standing of the profession within the society will help grow their business
• Academic Institutions
Academic Institutions play a key role in the development of the next generation of IT professionals and hence will benefit from any recommendations from this project that will improve the level of professionalism. These recommendations may be applicable to the designers of future IT educational material, structure and content.
• The State and Regulatory Bodies
All professionals operate within the boundaries conferred on them by the state and regulatory bodies. Throughout this research recommendations may be identified that suggest changes to the relationship between the State and IT Professional organisations.
• IT Professionals
Many of the changes required to improve the IT Profession come from the IT Professionals themselves. Its members must want to make the changes and be willing to take action to make the changes happen. How individual professionals act will have a big impact on the image of the profession as a whole.
While developing the research proposal, I have had informal conversations with a number of stakeholders:
• Colleagues and members of the IT profession. The general consensus was that the IT profession had grown very fast over the last 20 years and is probably now entering a maturing phase. There was a feeling that the timing is right now in defining the future shape of the profession.
• IT recruitment. The sharp decline in the number of IT students selecting IT as university courses is a concern for most societies. The apparent contradiction of skills shortages and lack of interest in IT needs to be addressed. It was felt that the unstructured nature of the profession coupled with poor image problems contributes to the decline of interest in IT. A strong professional body for IT would help address this.
• IBM Management
Like the rest of the IT industry, IBM is facing the same challenges of recruiting, retaining and motivating IT staff. This project is in support of IBM’s interest and other initiatives in this area.
• Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS)
CEPIS is an umbrella organisation representing Computer Societies in the majority of European counties. Following discussions with senior officers of this organisation they confirmed that they had identified the area of professionalism within the IT industry as one of their top focus areas. They were excited about my area of research and offered their endorsement when contacting the various Computer Societies.
In general, there was consensus regarding the aims of the project and its timing from the main interested stakeholders of this research.

Item Type: Thesis (DProf)
Additional Information: A project submitted to Middlesex University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Professional Studies.
Research Areas: A. > Work and Learning Research Centre
B. > Theses
Item ID: 2382
Depositing User: Repository team
Date Deposited: 21 May 2009 07:43
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2021 16:42

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