Immoral professionals?

In SA, IITPSA is the recognised professional body for the ICT sector, but this does not prevent other enterprises from offering their own spurious designations that have no foundation, says Adrian Schofield, a Vice-President of the IITPSA.

Johannesburg, 24 Nov 2015
Read time 3min 00sec

We live in a troubled world, where most human endeavour is enabled by technology. Our activities, whether they are intended for good or evil outcomes, are magnified by the easy access to the digital tools that pervade our communities. We can use a hammer and chisel to create the finest artwork or to destroy it. We can "engineer" the means of production or the means of destruction. We can use the Internet to inform and inspire or we can use it to misinform and malign. How can we tip the scales in favour of the desirable?

One of the ingredients of success, proven over hundreds, if not thousands, of years, has been the employment of skilled specialists who have learned their trade from acknowledged masters and have sworn to uphold the standards required of practitioners in their respective fields, says Adrian Schofield, a Vice-President of the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA).

These skilled people - doctors, lawyers, builders, engineers - are professionals. Some are more readily recognised as professional practitioners than others but they all have one thing in common - the trust factor. Their clients, their peers, their communities all trust that they will perform their duties to a recognised and acceptable standard.

How is that trust built and maintained? Firstly, through the visible adherence to the best standards of practice, resulting in customer satisfaction. That takes investment in education, training and process improvement. Sadly, life is not all sweetness and light - there are those who seek to profit from the reputation of others without submitting themselves to the rigours of skills development and moral compass. They masquerade as professionals in order to enrich themselves and take from their community rather than contribute to it. Such charlatans devalue the real professionals and undermine the trust that should exist around the profession.

In most professions, when such interlopers are found out, there is a mechanism for exposing their fraudulent behaviour, by reporting them to a statutory council that has powers of investigation and sanction.

Unfortunately, this is not so in the ICT sector. In spite of the acknowledged dangers arising from poorly constructed systems and the malignant application of technology, professionalism in the ICT sector is largely voluntary, with limited facilities to prevent "pretenders" from plying their trade.

Thus, in South Africa for instance, IITPSA is proud to be the recognised professional body for the ICT Sector, with its PMIITPSA the registered professional designation on the national Qualifications Framework (and accredited internationally by the International Professional Practice Partnership - IP3) but this local and international recognition does not prevent other enterprises from leaching on the back of the Institute by offering their own spurious designations that have no foundation beyond the sale of the piece of paper.

The "oldest profession" was built on the immoral behaviour of its customers. We must ensure that the "newest profession" excludes the immoral behaviour of its practitioners. Sustained codes of ethics and good practice, verifiable qualifications and experience, supported by demonstrable good governance are the hallmarks of the real professionals.

Contact details:
Tel: 011 315 1319

Editorial contacts
IITPSA Tony Parry (+27) 11 315 1319
See also