Unlike builders, plumbers, electricians and other trades people, IT professionals can practice freely without any regulation or accreditation, a situation that, according to Australian Computer Society president-elect Philip Argy, is in need of change.
"Most people appreciate that if you're going to get building work done, you will choose a licensed builder," Argy said, adding that trades people like electricians and plumbers have a base level of certification behind them, but IT professionals do not.
Argy said that what's important is not the licensing per se, but the process that gives people a comfort level.
The ACS has long championed the idea of a 'licence', or similar certification program for IT professionals so that employers have a standard to refer to when recruiting.
During his two-year tenure, Argy said there won't be a full licensing or certification program, but rather, more recognition of standards for technical qualifications and "ethical and social standards" of individuals that enterprises deal with.
"The ACS professional-grade membership is a proxy to this; we're not saying non-ACS members shouldn't be engaged, but they need to be interrogated more thoroughly," he said.
Agry also expressed hesitation as to whether the ACS should set itself up as the official IT professional "certifier".
"We accredit courses by making sure they go beyond mere technical prowess, [and] understand what being a brilliant professional is about," he said.
"There is the risk mitigation benefit of choosing a professional to do a job. We want the public to understand what to expect when dealing with professionals."
A code of ethics for IT professionals dovetails into Agry's vision for "significantly improving ICT literarcy" in Australia.
"It's important because we want to see Australia regain its clever country status to remaining globally competitive," he said.
Agry said that because most governments are up for election over the next two years, there is a fantastic opportunity to make the IT sector an electoral issue. The ACS will drive more public awareness of the ethical obligations of IT professionals and make IT a mainstream political issue instead of "a bunch of nerds talking about it".
"This won't be a self-serving ACS membership drive, but an altruistic objective to increase the desirability of ICT as a career option," he said.