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BCS on renewed professional standards campaign

To paraphrase: be reputable, join the BCS

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The British Computer Society (BCS) is continuing its efforts to define a decent set of professional standards for the IT sector with a new programme it says will put the industry on a par with governed or regulated professions such as engineering, or practicing medicine.

The organisation has formed a steering committee of experts from across industry and the public sector, to map out how to embed professional standards and professional qualifications in IT practice, in the same way that personnel management qualifications are a part of the HR machine. The group will be headed by BCS fellow John Leighfield OBE, and other members include John Higgins, DG of Intellect, the IT trade association, Katie Davies from the Cabinet Office's IT team as well as representatives from major companies like IBM.

The problem, as the BCS sees it, is fairly simple: IT is central to so much of what we do, but without widespread and widely recognised professional qualifications there is no way for the non-IT professional to distinguish a good software architect from a charlatan. There is also no way for that reliable and safe software architect to prove his or her credentials to potential clients.

Not surprisingly, it wants its own Chartered IT Practitioner (CITP) accreditation to be established as the profession's gold standard.

The BCS says that in IT, professional qualifications are seen as an optional extra, rather than as an imperative. Chief executive David Clarke notes: "Even with the increase in BCS membership, there is still only a small minority of practitioners in membership of any professional body and few, if any, employers require professional qualifications as part of their recruitment practice." ®

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