CATA to promote I.S.P. certification as part of CIPS partnership

Two of the country’s largest technology assocations organizations have joined forces in order to promote IT professionalism and innovation in Canada.

The Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) and the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) announced this week that they has signed a memorandum of agreement (MOU).

“It’s an alignment of talent and resources,” said Kevin Wennekes, vice-president of research for CATA in Ottawa.

The two organizations plan to undertake a national study on the value of IT professionalism and, more specifically, the Information Systems Professional of Canada (ISP) designation which CIPS hands out to members who meet it’s criteria, including getting a 1,000 hours of professional work a year, and pay its fees. Though there are over 500,000 people working in the information and communications technology sector according to the Information and Communications and Technology Council, there are only 1,500 ISPs in Canada today. CIPS has 6,000 members in total.

Through the study, CIPS hopes they will come to a better understanding of how Canadian companies differentiate between technical certifications (such as those software vendors hand out) and professional certifications (such as the ISP), said CIPS’s president, John Boufford in Ottawa.

CATA will encourage its members, which include companies and individuals, to hire ISPs, though it hasn’t done so until now, Wennekes said.

“We would make that one of our key messages, that employers would look at highering that designation. It’s clear that they do set a better standard,” he said.

There are already employers who favour ISPs, Boufford said, adding that he knows of three in Alberta.

CIPS-certified professionals must assess and mitigate risk, commit to career-long professional development and keep current, Boufford said. They must also place the public interest above all else, he said. “In other words, do no harm.”

CIPS and CATA will also work together to look at how Canada can become more innovative.

“We currently don’t have a clear innovation strategy from the federal government. We need that defined,” Wennekes said.

Another factor holding back innovation is a lack of skilled workers, Boufford said. Canada needs more IT graduates, he said.

CIPS has been investing more effort than usual in its efforts to promote the ISP certification this year. Last month, it sent two representatives to a meeting in Cape Town, Africa, to attend a meeting with similar organizations from Australia and the U.K. to review the current practices around IT professionalism and to develop an “action plan” around standardizing approaches. The group hopes that Canadian IT professionals might one day be able to have their local certification credentials recognized in other countries.

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