NZCS talking professionalism

Posted on February 28, 2008


The NZ Computer Society had its Otago AGM this week. Don Robertson, the new chair of the NZCS spoke about the Society’s plans to focus on professional registration. This is great news for sustainability.

Don talked about the challenges facing the NZCS and its members. Foremost of those is professionalism. With the proliferation of computing to every sector of society, the standards that we work to are critical. He gives the example of an aeroplane:

The plane is designed by professional engineers, and is certified itself as to its quality. Yet the connection between the pilot and the engines is software that has no formal standards and is written by someone who may or may not have either the technical skills or professional control and accountability.

I like the separation of professional and technical skills (note: not necessarily roles or people). Rather, the sets of skills are complementary, with the clear message that professional practice is over-arching. This is the approach taken by the BCS and the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA).

This focus brings the NZCS Code of Ethics to the fore. It is poised to become central to our careers. Don recognises that it is not very tractable (test yourself: write down the principles of the code, before refreshing yourself here). NZCS is organising working groups so I hope to see an opportunity for people to participate in this. We should also take the opportunity to make sustainability explicit – its currently at best only implied in NZ and all other codes of practice (see earlier posts 1, 2).

The new CEO of NZCS is Dunedin’s Paul Mathews. Paul owns ProSouth, and is a long time employer of our students and graduates (including ProSouth’s manager Ian Simpson) so we look forward to working with him on a national stage (yeah, I got “volunteered” for the Otago committee).