Actions towards Maturing the ICT Profession in Europe

Actions towards Maturing the ICT Profession in Europe

Martin Sherry (Innovation Value Institute, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland), Marian Carcary (Innovation Value Institute, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland), Stephen McLaughlin (Innovation Value Institute, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland) and Conor O’Brien (Innovation Value Institute, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/jhcitp.2013010105
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This paper presents a framework and identifies a series of action points to support the maturing of the ICT profession in Europe. The paper stems from a research initiative launched by the European Commission to develop proposals for a European framework for ICT professionalism, with the intention of maturing the ICT profession within Europe and facilitating worker mobility.
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1. Introduction

Approximately 5 million individuals are estimated to be working as ICT practitioners across Europe (Cattheneo et al., 2009), with the OECD citing almost 16 million individuals employed in the OECD ICT sector (OECD, 2010). Nonetheless, the ICT profession itself remains immature. Indeed, there is no commonly agreed definition of what constitutes an ICT professional, let alone the implementation of components required to establish and sustain such a profession.

This lack of maturity within the ICT profession presents significant challenges for society as well as European competitiveness:

  • ICT Skills gaps of up to 13% are forecasted over the period 2010-2015 for Europe, potentially acting as a brake on the European economy’s recovery, given ICT’s role as an enabler of business value (Catteneo et al., 2009);

  • Poor public image of the ICT profession is impacting on the numbers entering the profession – as suggested by the recent CompTIA survey where 17% of students surveyed saw IT careers as “sitting in a backroom with little or no social contact” (CompTIA, 2012). The decline in the number of school leavers studying ICT related courses is further evidence of this (Brady, 2009; Furber, 2012);

  • Low levels of ICT knowledge (CEPIS, 2011) and/or deep specialist technology-specific knowledge (Forfas, 2008), is hampering practitioners in viewing the “big picture” of ICT, its interconnectedness, and its role in enabling organizational capability. The 2011 CEPIS e-Competence survey reinforces this concern, identifying that “79% of respondents may not have the breadth of e-competences required by their role” (CEPIS, 2011);

  • High frequency of ICT budget overruns; according to Flyvbjerg and Budzier (2011a) “ICT projects deviate from their initial cost estimate by more than 10% in 8 out of 10 cases”. Further, a disproportionate number of so-called “ICT black swans” is evident with one in six projects found to have a cost overrun of 200%, and a schedule overrun of almost 70% (Flyybjerg & Budzier, 2011b).

The fact that the next wave of computing, known as pervasive computing, is exponentially increasing the number of connected devices (Loureiro et al., 2006), suggests that the extent to which ICT is embedded in society will continue to grow. Hence, potentially more significant than the economic impact of e-skills gaps, e-skills shortages and failed ICT projects, is the risk posed to society from ICT. Traditionally, professions have emerged when failure to successfully apply domain-specific knowledge had the potential to adversely impact on society - as stated by Denning and Frailey (2011), “professions form when considerable expertise is needed to take care of people’s enduring concerns in a domain”. Hence, given ICT’s pivotal role in society, and the requirement for specialist knowledge to develop further advancements, the case for maturing an ICT profession is strong.

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