CIPS signs international agreement on certification

The Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) announced this week that it has joined the Seoul Accord, which will recognize equivalency across undergraduate computing programs accredited by the IEEE-CS (United States), the British Computer Society (the United Kingdom), JABEE (Japan), the Australian Computer Society (Australia), and ABEEK (Korea).

The computing programs would include everything from computer science to information and communication technology. A set list of graduate attributes will ensure standardization of the Accord’s programs. Accord membership is voluntary. Final details on program qualifications and timeline for formal implementation of the Accord are still being hammered out, but discussions among Accord participants should be going forward in the new year.

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Korea got the Seoul Accord going last fall and was quick to recruit the most talented techie countries. “They contacted all the major players,” said Ken Takagaki, vice-president of education at the British Columbia Institute of Technology and former director of accreditation with CIPS. “They started the Seoul Accord because computing is a global business, and is an important part of nation-building.”

“It’s a very positive development,” according to Canadian Advanced Technology Association president John Reid. “Anything that increases the standing of IT professionals and shares best practices between companies is good.”

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It’s also a good way to improve workforce mobility, said Reid, as it can be a challenge for Canada to attract and retain talent, and this could welcome more incoming pros. He said, “It certainly increases the value of workers. Often there’s a mismatch in skills, with gaps in critical areas. Especially now in the downturn, people are in need of special skill sets, and this more open policy could help with that.”

Said Takagaki, “With the skills shortage in Canada, it will be helpful as well. It’s assurance that computer graduates’ training is substantially equivalent.”

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There is a downside, however — that same mobility might also result in Canadian IT pros heading for faraway shores instead of working in the Canadian IT industry. “When you have people who are more confident in the transferability of their skill set, they will question what in Canada is the most attractive to them,” Reid said, pointing out that, as the Accord starts to take effect, employers will have to treat their employees well so that they will have reason to stay.

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