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CIPS forms Taskforce on Re-engineering the CIPS Certification Program

As has been reported in previous CIPS Connections, CIPS is currently undergoing a transformation to adapt to the changing world of IT and to improve what it can offer its members. Changes include, an overhaul of CIPS products and services, including the CIPS Professional Certification program. CIPS wants to restructure its Certification Program to better address the needs of the broader ICT profession and industry. 

Created in 1988, the CIPS certification program was intended to provide a single, integrated certification to ICT practitioners and managers. It offered an independent “stamp of approval” that an IT professional’s skills and experience met national IT industry standards defined by the profession for the profession. Certification established evidence of an individual’s knowledge, understanding and competence. It demonstrated a commitment to professional standards, a commitment to continuing development of competence as an IT professional, and provided a differentiator when applying for jobs. Above all, the certification program was intended to create a climate and ethos of professionalism within the IT community.

In recent years, extensive research has been conducted by the our sister organizations, the British Computer Society (BCS) and the Australian Computer Society (ACS) as well as, the Information Communications and Technology Canada (ICTC) , to explore the needs of industry in the area of professional certification. The research resulted in the following high-level conclusions.

Professional certification has to:

  • Have a focus on both demonstrated breadth and depth (e.g. domain or technical specialization);
  • Recognize the capabilities on the technical, non technical and personal level through the use of an open comprehensive competence architecture;
  • Recognize knowledge of operations and management of an enterprise (profile needs to include business related capabilities);
  • Include practical assessment components to make it credible and robust;
  • Include recognition for previous work experience and other (vendor or professional) certifications obtained;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of a Code of Conduct/Ethics;
  • Clearly designate and differentiate between a professional and technologist ;
  • Be tied to a real value balance of skill, education, and experience and not simply to an "I can pass an exam" qualification.

According to the research, professional certification needs to be able to assist employers with clearly understanding what they are getting in a worker and would need to help employers recognize the specific competencies that ICT workers have. It should also help workers better understand the competencies they need to develop in order to progress in their careers, thereby providing them with a roadmap for life-long learning and professional development.

CIPS has taken this information into consideration and has embarked on a road to change its certification program. Although work has only started, an initial proposed direction has been defined. The restructuring effort will include a review of the need for recognition of a broader subset of IT workers and not just the traditional “P” professional level. Consideration will be given to the creation of a “technologist” certification ensuring that such a grading fits into the broader context of an overall qualification regime. This will then promote multiple entry points into the profession, and facilitate better career support to professionals.  A certification program should not only recognize a practitioner’s current capabilities, experience, and responsibilities, but also provide tools to identify gaps between current and desired competency and identify ways of moving from current to desired recognition. The certification program review will also look at providing recognition of specialized areas of knowledge and expertise. Such recognition might include functional (e.g. enterprise architecture, business analysis, software development, etc.), application domain (e.g. health care, gaming, business, etc.), or other dimensions.

In addition, CIPS will be exploring the recognition of certification related courses and training materials to fill specific skills competency and/or knowledge acquisition gaps that are identified in the marketplace, as well as continuing the accreditation of college and university programs to support the certification model.

CIPS remains committed to developing a recognized IT profession. Re-engineering of the certification program therefore will ensure that the core elements of what defines an IT profession are maintained. They include:

  • Demonstrated initial education demonstrated through mastery of an appropriate portion of the CIPS Core Body of Knowledge.
  • Program Accreditation
  • Skills Development (demonstrated ability to perform work at a certain level of competence)
  • Committed to abide by the CIPS Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct
  • Commitment to ongoing professional development

A Taskforce and working groups are currently being formed and will shortly commence their work. It is anticipated that the new program will be launched later this year.

For more information on the restructuring program or if you would like to participate contact Gina van Dalen, CAE, Manager Professional Standards at gina@cips.ca or 905 602 1370 e