Article by Loranne Avsar Zammit – Senior Leader eSkills Malta Foundation
(Part 1 of 2)
Before discussing the recognition and possible regulation of the ICT profession at a local level, it is fundamental to understand why ICT practice can be regarded as a profession.
Since, Freidson (1986) describes professions as a particular occupational category involving a detailed and specialist education, focusing on providing a service of some kind to the rest of society (Russell, 1961; Vigilante, 1974; Grayling, 2004), the ICT practice does have the required criteria to be regarded as a profession.
The eSkills Malta Foundation also suggests the following factors for members of a profession to consider :
• Professionals are considered experts in their chosen vocation or field.
• Professionals possess a broad range of (systematic) knowledge with a clearly identifiable theoretical base.
• Professionals are responsible to the public and the community.
• Professionals possess a high degree of autonomy regarding their decision-making and behaviour.
• Professionals are governed by a code of ethics, which:
is a statement of rules and values
is intended to ensure a high quality of service
is intended to guarantee the competency of membership, honour, and integrity
is an expression of a profession’s principles, and what it expects of its members and emphasises no personal gain at a cost to others (co-professionals, clients, community etc.)
has a professional system of rewards that is primarily recognised for building up appropriate knowledge and experience and furthering the respect of the profession.
provides a system for testing the competence of members.
(eSkills Malta Foundation: Attaining more formal recognition of ICT professionals in Malta p.8)
From these factors, it can be noted that several ICT practitioners obviously meet the criteria of being professional. Individuals working in the ICT profession have full responsibilities and accountability for their technical work; their decisions can often determine the success of projects.
Indeed, not all ICT practitioners meet the described criteria to be considered ICT professionals. Hence, any related legislation should have explicit standards to ensure that the professional designation is only available to those meeting the identified criteria as applied to other professions. In addition, the legislative framework should include multiple layers of recognition to include associate and technician levels, such as the legal framework adopted in other countries like the United Kingdom and Italy.
Nonetheless, there are compelling exponents on both sides of the ICT practice regulation debate. However, in a recent study commissioned by the eSkills Malta Foundation: Attaining more formal recognition of ICT professionals in Malta, 84.4% of the survey respondents felt that some form of national recognition of the local ICT sector is called for.
eSkills Malta Foundation has identified several benefits of having better recognition and possible formal regulation of the local ICT practice. These include:
• Protection of clients’ and public interests
• Clearer expectations of required knowledge, competence, and behaviour from ICT practitioners
• A means for better sharing of knowledge between ICT practitioners
• It provides a means for employers and clients to identify more competent practitioners
• Improved status for ICT practitioners
(eSkills Malta Foundation: Attaining more formal recognition of ICT professionals in Malta p.17)
The second part of this article in a forthcoming publication will discuss the suggested way to attain formal recognition of ICT professionals and regulate the ICT profession.
eSkills Malta Foundation. (2022). Attaining more formal recognition of ICT professionals in Malta. https://eskills.org.mt/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Attaining-more-formal.pdf
Freidson, E. (1986). Professional powers: A study of the institutionalization of formal knowledge. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Grayling, A. C. (2004). What is good? The search for the best way to live. London: Phoenix.
Russell, B. (1961). History of Western philosophy. London: George Allen & Unwin.
Vigilante, J. (1974). Between values and science: Education for the professional during a moral crisis or is proof truth? Journal of Education for Social Work, 10(3), 107–115.