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Should ICT be Professionalised?

It is a fact that ICT professionals today apply their specialised skills and knowledge to touch every industry and every aspect of our lives. Question is, since every industry relies on ICT for their business, and the successful investment and deployment of ICT is the basis of business success, shouldn’t ICT professionals possess moral ethics, professional competence and up-to-date knowledge to provide that right advice for whomever they serve?

Dr Chong Yoke Sin

Fellow, SCS

Vice President, SCS Executive Council and Chairperson,

SCS TeSA Committee

ICT has enabled and disrupted many industries – one can just look around to see how ICT has created new business norms. Goods are bought online from retailers without a shopfront, taxi companies operate without taxis, medical conditions can be monitored without nurses, radiology images can be read by machines, rooms can be rented outside of hotels, and soon, perhaps, banking will be done without banks.

Is ICT an Enabler or an Inhibitor?

At the core of these developments are the IT systems that provide data, and transactions that empower the integrity and scalability of these virtual businesses. Additionally, the Smart Nation vision has provided an environment and infrastructure that allows the pervasive use of ICT to transform the way we live, work and play.

However, amidst this optimistic backdrop lies the deep-seated concern of vulnerability that results from systems failure. The need for regulating systems that serve the general public is also a hotly contested issue. There are no simple solutions to these challenges. On one hand, it is possibly impossible to accurately assess the risk of systems failure; on the other, the quick pace of technology changes means that the regulation of systems can only lag behind at best.

ICT Professionals have a Role to Play

Today, ICT professionals – people behind the systems – architect, design, implement, deploy and maintain these systems. Their professional expertise are depended upon to provide robust systems that operate with integrity.

While in Australia and the UK, ICT is a recognised profession which enjoys equivalent standing among professions such as medicine, law, architecture and engineering; Singapore has only recently introduced the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) programme to provide an avenue for ICT professionals to train and retrain continuously to keep pace with technological changes as well as their own aspirations.

The Community has to Step Up

But is the TeSA programme enough? Should we have a systematic and recognised way to progress ICT in Singapore? And how should we govern this so that ICT can indeed be a recognised profession in Singapore?

Truth is, ICT needs the best brains if it indeed is the basis for disruption of every other industry. To perform transformative work, ICT professionals need to have expert knowledge of the tools, appreciation of the current trends and the ability to learn any domain quickly – calling for continuous deep and broad learning.

The TeSA programme is a good start to promote continuous skills upgrading in the ICT community nationally. But professionalising ICT has a bigger implication than just skills improvement, it means having a body of knowledge to guide how the profession is practiced, accreditation of learning paths, and recognition of the need for continuous learning for effective practice.

After all, it is only when both skills and practice are upgraded and kept relevant that ICT professionals can provide ICT solutions needed by businesses.

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