“Morons”: Freelancer CEO wants ACS disbanded



news The outspoken chief executive of crowdsourcing company Freelancer.com has posted an extensive diatribe online calling for the Australian Computer Society to be disbanded, describing the professional body as a “joke” and being run by “f*cking morons”.

The rant, posted on social networking site LinkedIn yesterday, was stimulated by Matt Barrie‘s attendance at a forum aiming to discuss how technology education inAustralia could be improved, which he described as “a parody”. Barrie said the ACS had distributed a brochure on every seat at the forum which did not accurately describe the career paths which Australian students could follow through studying technology courses.

“Sorry, but who are these f*cking morons?” Barrie wrote. “They are doing more damage to the industry than help. I kept thinking that at some point Candid Camera might jump out from behind the door. This is the “professional association for Australia’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector”. What a joke.”

Barrie went on to slam what he described as the ACS’s “fairly lucrative protection racket”, under which he said the ACS unfairly charged those with overseas qualifications for having those qualifications recognised in Australia. “Want your overseas qualifications recognised for a skilled visa application (in the ICT area) to get into the country? Then you need to buy off the ACS,” he said.

In other comments posted under the LinkedIn post Barrie went further. “I don’t know of a single person working for a high growth technology company in Australia that’s a member,” he said. “It seems to me like it’s an RSL club for former DEC, NCR and WANG staff from the 70’s.” Barrie also added that Google Australia engineering chief Alan Noble had also been at the event and had also criticised the brochure.

However, it appears as though at least in some of his criticism, Barrie misfired.

ACS President Nick Tate posted a reaction to Barrie’s post on LinkedIn, noting that the offending brochure had actually not been published by the ACS, but by a satellite organisation, the ACS Foundation, which broadly separated from the ACS a number of years ago with the specific aim of focusing on helping students with IT careers; the ACS itself tends to focus more broadly on representing and aiding those already working in the IT industry. In addition, Tate pointed out, the event Barrie attended was actually run by National ICT Australia and not the ACS itself.

“We are surprised to see such strong statements about the ACS based on such incorrect information,” Tate said. “The great thing about the ACS is that in representing the ICT profession, we are happy to engage with and listen to those who wish to contribute to the profession, which is why your Freelancer.com colleague and VP of Engineering, David Harrison, joined us as a guest for a meeting of the ACS congress before Christmas and why we would be delighted to engage in discussion with you. We think it would be useful however to start our discussions about meetings that the ACS has actually held and about documents that we have actually produced.”

The ACS also issued a separate statement this morning, noting that the brochures belonged to the ACS Foundation, and that the event was hosted by NICTA.

“The ACS applauds Mr. Barrie’s passion for supporting ICT education in Australia, which is an area we have championed and advanced since our inception in 1966,” the group wrote. “We are open to constructive conversation with industry leaders around helping to inspire more young people to pursue careers in ICT. The ACS will continue to reach out to industry leaders and stakeholders including Mr. Barrie, and looks forward to constructive discussion and debate on how we can further promote ICT in Australia.”

However, despite Barrie’s mistake, the issue appears to have opened a can of worms regarding the ACS’ performance in general, with many Australian IT workers and those from overseas posting comments on LinkedIn and on IT news aggregation site Hacker News supporting Barrie’s view of the ACS.

“I never joined. The ACS was not referred to in a positive manner when I was at university,” wrote one commenter on Hacker News. “No IT employer in Australia that I’ve communicated with has ever mentioned the ACS in regards to qualifications, not once — I would be surprised if any even know it exists, unless they have worked with sponsoring skilled worker visas,” wrote another.

Another added: “Former employer bought me an ACS membership one year (mainly so we could get access to their members in the hope of selling our services). The entire membership seems to be guys who built a homebrew PC in the 70s and haven’t showered since, or international students who believe so much in their education they’re fooled into believing they need the ACS to rubber stamp their degree. They’re totally irrelevant in today’s “but can you write good code?” hiring practice.”

This week’s controversy is not the first time the ACS has been accused of being irrelevant by some in Australia’s IT industry. As early as 2005, when the company was attempting to highlight the urgent need for immigration reform to stop foreign IT professionals taking jobs in the Australian industry, it was criticised by the then-managing editor of ZDNet Australia for not presenting sufficient data to back its argument.

“… what it is worth I simply do not think the ACS has ANY relevance at all to anyone in IT .. apart from a few lucky people within the ACS hierarchy,” wrote one commenter at the time, in comments similar to the sentiments of many with respect to Barrie’s this week. “General consensus seems to agree with me if you read the comments on Hacker News and Twitter,” concluded Barrie in his comments this week.

Look, I don’t want to get stuck into the ACS too much. There is no doubt that the organisation has done good work over the years and that Australia’s IT industry does need peak lobby groups such as the ACS to represent IT professionals to government and other stakeholders and help to push the cause that the IT industry represents a vibrant and growing industry which it would be attractive for young people to join.

However, I’m also not going to pretend that Barrie’s belief that the ACS is completely irrelevant isn’t more or less the dominant view in Australia’s IT industry right now. I have plenty of friends who work in IT, I’ve met thousands more over the years due to my role as a technology journalist, and I’ve never heard anyone singing the virtues of the ACS. In contrast, I do regularly hear people espousing the virtues of other professional groups such as the Systems Administrators Guild of Australia, which at times has been quite active in supporting its membership.

The ironic thing is that in 2013, the IT profession is more attractive to join than at any point in its history. You don’t have to join a major bank anymore and get work programming mainframes like you would have had to back in 1966 when the ACS was founded. Now, if you want to work in IT, a vastly preferable career path is probably to join a red hot IT startup backed by an incubator like Pollenizer, where attractive and fashionable young people work hard during the day and play hard at night in funky offices in Surry Hills.

Workplaces like Google, Atlassian and others offer career paths that are rewarding, alongside great working conditions and motivated young IT professionals.

If the ACS wants to be attractive to young people in 2013, it’s people precisely like Matt Barrie that it needs to get on-board. Dynamic startup chief executives who grew up with technology and can sell its benefits to those entering university and graduating from it. If the ACS is to survive, Barrie’s right; it needs to shed its image as some kind of RSL club for retired 70’s IT administrators and focus on what’s happening in today’s IT environment.

To a certain extent the ACS is doing this already; you can see this in its recent re-branding and it’s writ large in the speech which ACS chief executive Alan Patterson gave last year to the Young IT Conference in Sydney in October last year (PDF). Apps, mobile, social media, startups; you can see that Patterson knows what young people find cool and that he is trying to help the ACS transition into that world.

However, the ACS needs to do more. Forgive me for saying this, but it needs to become ‘sexy’ if it wants to be attractive to young people and to address the complaints of people like Barrie. Barrie got some of his facts wrong this week (and there’s no doubt that there is also some irony in the CEO of an website which helps many people outsource IT tasks overseas complaining about an Australian IT professional body), but under Barrie’s bluster is a very good point about the ACS; as indicated by the level of support his comments got.

And it’s not as though Barrie doesn’t have some cred in the IT industry. If you check out his profile on Freelancer.com, you’ll find he’s not just a startup CEO. He’s also been a long-time IT university lecturer, and in 2006 picked up the State Pearcey Award for contribution to Australia’s IT industry. In a sense, Barrie himself bridges the gap between the old world of technology professionals and the new one emerging in Australia at the moment.

Image credit: Freelancer.com


  1. I had to join the ACS as it was a requirement at one point that I was an ACS CP. A requirement not needed for my job mind you, but for recognition for a government department so I could be paid my entitlements when a company I work for went into recievership.
    I have to agree, the ACS is useless. It does not seem to have anything to offer the working professional. I have kept looking at all the talks and training they have organised over the past two years and I have yet to find anything relevant. I want to find something and I can’t.
    It seems to me that the whole thing is aimed at middle management that did some fortran or cobol in the 60s and 70s and haven’t done anything hands on since.

    • I got offered a discount on membership thru a large DefCon I was working for at the time – after reading thru what my membership would provide, I passed up the opportunity …. membership is the ACS is utterly worthless!

      • Actually, I’ve found this article very useful. Since all the money has been paid out and taxed I can cancel my membership. When I had to join I gave it a try but could find no reason to be involved in anything they did, not that there really was much going on. You’d learn more in a day on Stack overflow than anyone at ACS seems to know.

  2. “… and in 2006 pictured up the State Pearcey Award”

    I think you mean “… picked up… ” :-)

  3. The only thing, even though I’m working in IT, the ACS ever had to do with me is that a relative joined 13 years to get a visa to come to Australia. That’s it, and that’s seemingly the only reason people are joining it. There’s certainly no other incentive.

    It is, as far as I can see and in my subjective, but I suppose also collective, opinion, utterly irrelevant to the IT industry. If the ACS were to disappear I would not know of one person who would care.

    • It is, as far as I can see and in my subjective, but I suppose also collective, opinion, utterly irrelevant to the IT industry. If the ACS were to disappear I would not know of one person who would care.


      • The one person would be his relative; who now has a degree that no one is qualified to validate as “computer science” and thus; is no longer eligible for a skilled migrant visa.

  4. “However, the ACS needs to do more. Forgive me for saying this, but it needs to become ‘sexy’ if it wants to be attractive to young people and to address the complaints of people like Barrie.”

    It doesn’t need to do something sexy, it can start by finding something useful to do. Anything at all. Young people are probably the easiest ones for it to currently recruit, since they may be naive enough to think it has any redeeming qualities.

    quink wrote: “It is, as far as I can see and in my subjective, but I suppose also collective, opinion, utterly irrelevant to the IT industry. If the ACS were to disappear I would not know of one person who would care.”

    Most of the people I know would call this a fairly positive outlook on the ACS.

    • They do seem to be trying to attract younger people. From what I have seen there are two tracks they seem to target.
      As I mentioned above, managers who haven’t done any hands on work for years. With talks like “How to use the latest buzz words without knowing what they mean”. Well I am exagerating there, but talks you wouldn’t go to because it just isn’t revelant to anything.
      The other is pub get togethers for IT uni students.
      Being nearly 50 I haven’t gone to any of those so I can’t say if anyone actually goes to them.

    • needs to become ‘sexy’

      allow me to correct this:

      needs to become ‘useful’

      See, better already! :-)

  5. “The entire membership seems to be guys who built a homebrew PC in the 70s and haven’t showered since”
    That was just too funny.

  6. Does the ACS do anything useful, outside of accrediting Comp Sci degrees?

    They certainly don’t seem to have the prominence or influence of other professional bodies like those in law, accounting, medicine, architecture and so on.

    • Accrediting CompSci degrees? What’s the benefit of that? I know many people with CompSci degrees and not one of them could be stuffed to do anything with ACS, myself included.

      • It is useful for visa applications, to ensure that they actually have a comp sci degree, and not a piece of paper bought on the internet.

        The government doesn’t have time to follow up every institution; and so take the word of someone who has proven to actually check into the quality of the education an insitution claims to provide.

        This article actually explains it very well, even if it complains about it. Someone pays the ACS to accredit their course. **someone** has to check the credentials of an institution (not in Australia) and that checking costs money.

        Regarding everything the ACS do; it probably is a huge waste of time, effort and money. But the one thing they do that is useful; is precisely what this CEO is complaining about. (all because of a pamphlet not even written by the ACS).

  7. It is telling when on an IT News blog with a highly technical readership you can’t find a single voice to defend what is meant to be ‘our’ representative body.
    I’ve been offered free membership to the ACS for the last 15 years (perk of my contracting agency) and even a that price I didn’t think it worth the price of admission.

  8. 31 years in the IT industry and the only people I have personally known to be members I could count on one hand. Most of these work in sales, so I’m not so sure on who they represent or are supposed to represent

  9. I have 14 years of IT experience working up from a Technical Support Officer on the phones to a Senior Systems Administrator managing multi site networks and desigining internal networking infrustracture. I have never obtained an official qualification.

    ACS rejected my application to join because I had no formal qualification in IT. (General Science Degree) . The leap to get the skills I did have recognised was too great for me. It was going to be a several hundred dollar exam. Which at the end of the day really wasnt goign to advance my career anyway.

    I signed up to Sage-AU instead and was welcomed with open arms. I have been a member ever since and find their (our) attitude to the broad range of IT skills needed and available, to be enlightening and open.

  10. The problem is that the ACS does not really represent the interests of technology professionals. It just uses young members as cover for the claim that it is important and should be seen as the representative body,

    In the last 20 years the ACS has not done a single thing to advance the interests of technology professionals. If anyone can contradict me on this, please do so.

    Rather, almost all ACS actions are designed to promote its own interests as an organisation, including increasing its power, increasing its income, increasing its membership numbers and attacking critics. It even enters into deals with recruiters and large organisations to gain more members, as if it’s some sort of McDonalds.

    It also has close ties with the labour hire industry, whose interests are antithetical to technology professionals. No other genuine professional society operates like this. It’s as if the Medical Association let hospital accountants and medical lawyers be members and Fellows.

    Fundamentally, the problem with the ACS is that it has a strange voting system that allows a small clique to elect office holders, and this perpetuates a long standing and problematic culture. If the ACS was genuine about representing technology professionals, it would hold open elections so that new people could be elected and clean out the problems.

  11. Back in the early 70s’ the ACS ruled everything. At that time I thought they were a self interest organization. I chose not to join. I then proceeded to enjoy a satisfying career for 35 years free of their intervention,

  12. “not been published by the ACS, but by a satellite organisation, the ACS Foundation”

    Well, I’m glad we cleared that up. Dissembling much?

    The point is, the pamphlets *do* embody the mentality of much of the ACS as a fuddy-duddy organisation with little or no relevance to those who work in the industry – particularly on the leading edge and s/w development side of things.

    Having worked for or run some 10 different IT/software companies in Australia, it has not once been mentioned or used as a selection criteria anywhere I have seen. Maybe a couple of government departments have been cajoled into thinking it’s relevant, but who else has?

    The biggest problem is that the ACS is hugely conservative and backwards looking. E.g. have a look at their course offerings at http://acs.org.au/professional-development/Distance-Courses

    Ruby on Rails? Web development? nodes.js? Mobile application infrastructure? Web services? Running as a cloud? Emerging language paradigms?

    Oh no. Much better to have a course on “Business Process Improvement” or “Organisational Change Management”. These are courses that any management organisation over the last 100 years could run.

    They should take the “C” out since they rarely mention it and more accurately call themselves AS.

    Yes, I’m a little bitter because it reflects the whole mentality that Australia is a branch office of the Computing world were we deploy and manage rather than innovate and create.

  13. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked to the ACS for technical leadership, but what sealed their fate for me was their support of the Internet Filter. They were supporting something that blind freddy could see would not achieve its stated aims.

    I suppose they supported it as a brown nosing exercise with the political power brokers. It’s the sort of thing that gets them into the position of being able to OK immigrants I guess. But In doing so they managed to disenfranchise themselves from what is supposed to be their real power base – IT professionals. It was like watching a bunch of aging lemmings throw themselves over a cliff.

    Which is a shame. Life was simpler 30 years ago. If you wanted to improve yourself technically, you joined the ACM or their local equivalent, read their journals and attended their conferences. Now I have to join lots of groups – like Python programming, open source, functional programming, read blogs, subscribe to Sage-AU and read /., and go to lots of conferences organised by different groups. It’s all a bit of a mess. It could be nice to have one go-to organisation I could go to for professional development. A long, long while ago that used to be the ACS. Now I am not sure they know what your average IT professional does on a day to day basis.

    • Really? They were all pro internet filtering? http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/321746/acs_isp-filtering_could_affect_internet_speeds_prices/

      Honestly the internet filtering had 2 sides of opposition.
      1) Opposition morally (FREEEDOOOM)
      2) Technically informed opposition (It wont work because…)

      It also had only 1 side for it.
      Think of the children (and all the porn).

      Personally; I am all for think of the children. But my technical opposition outweighed it. (It wasn’t possible to think of the children by filtering the internet, not to mention all the legitimate crap you hit at the same time – ie wrong solution to the problem as stated).

      It appears that my view is the one the ACS took. “Internet filtering to save kids is a great idea, that won’t work”. If we could filter the internet for *just* the children; I would be totally for that.

      So you are wrong. The ACS were not in favour of internet filtering.

      • > So you are wrong. The ACS were not in favour of internet filtering.

        Try reading their actual report. This is a reasonable summary http://www.itnews.com.au/News/158006,a.aspx Quote:

        “Six experts from the ACS said that filtering of the internet is plausible, but suggested a number of steps, summarised below, that the Federal Government needs to first address.”

        They then list a number of points that have to be addressed. By any reasonable reading of those points, filtering is NOT technically reasonable, directly contradicting the summary given at the start.

        So is the summary what I would expect from EA or any other professional organisation – frank and fearless advice to the government, or was it a fine example of blatant brown nosing?

  14. I’m not going to join the let’s call the ACS useless crowd, (which btw almost every entry is I am not in the ACS therefore they are useless, only 1 OR 2 examples include actual experience) but I will weigh in on topic.

    Course accreditation. They don’t accredit courses just so when you do them you join, and the accredit course (often targeting overseas insitutionz) to make sure the course is legitimate.
    When you apply for your visa, and you have a CS degree from tiny town, random country, how can the government validate that your degree actually qualifies you for a ‘professional’ visa? The government don’t have the experience to validate degrees so they defer to someone else’s determination. I don’t know if anyone else validates degrees, but I am glad someone does.

    • I should add: I am not a member of the ACS, but I do know someone who is.
      (they might fall into the “built computers in their basement in the 70’s” category; but they followed it up by selling those computers, working for years in IT in the 80’s, then finally teaching CS for 30 years afterward).

    • I agree with you that someone has to validate courses. When at a lose for a body to do so ACS seems as good as any. The problem I see is that they don’t seem to offer anything else for the computer professional except in the very limited case of a manager.
      I am a member of the ACS and fall in to the category of built computers in my basement. I did go to uni and did the very limited and already out of date BASci (comp). That was 3 wasted years.
      I didn’t go in to teaching. I am still working, avoided going fully in to management as it would bore me senseless.
      I still find the ACS a big disappointment. I want it to provide talks and education relevant to people working in the industry, but it doesn’t. It seems the focus is so narrow, as I mentioned, management. They seem to spend most effort on elections and awards. It’s about $340 a year for a badge and a magazine. $340 that in 3 years of looking for some benefit from the ACS, other than government recognition, that I could better use elsewhere.

      • Yours is one of the few actually informed opinions on the ACS, (the 1 or 2 I was mentioning!) And it makes me sad to hear it. I am just not informed enough to actually add anything to that side of the debate.

        WRT to the off-topic about CS degrees; I used to think like you did about my course bSc(comp sci), but I came to terms a couple years later when I realised they weren’t teaching me to program in .net/node.js/java/web2.0 or whatever buzzwords were going around at the time (there was no node.js or much web2.0 back then); they were teaching me how to program in *all* languages.

        Teaching me to think about ways to do things; the language was just a mechanism to express the algorithms they were making us think about.

        Since then; I am only happy about my education. It wasn’t a ticket to a job immediately, but it made me a better programmer in the long run.

  15. I read this article with great interest.

    I’ve never been a fan of the ACS. To me they seem to be self appointed guardians of IT in Australia, but with little actual industry relevance. (Unless you are an immigrant looking to work in IT). To me, this should be a government function, not that of a private body.

    I did join the ACS as an Associate due to wanting to gain some form of accreditation as I have no university degree. (Something management raises every time annual reviews roll around).

    (I do have over 25 years IT experience though, (started in the 80’s running a BBS back when Mike Malone was just another BBS operator then went on to things like vSphere, Exchange, VPN, SIP, fiber, switching etc and have traveled extensively doing server/infrastructure installations in places like Kazakhstan, Mongolia, South Africa, Russia and China).

    Going back to uni to gain a degree to me seems like a waste of time. I have done a few should courses on things like ITIL, vmware etc.

    What would people recommend for someone like myself who can do the work but has no piece of paper. Or should I just not worry about it?

    • Hi Simon you ask what “would people recommend for someone like myself who can do the work but has no piece of paper?” It seems to me that you are asking the question because somehow not having a piece of paper is important to you possibly because the question about credentials comes up each year at the annual review. So are you wanting to solve this problem (credentialing) or are you wanting to extend your knowledge with a formal study program? If the answer to the second is yes, then what excites you? what are you willing to commit a substantial part of your free time to in the next 2 or more years of your life, because part time that could be how long it takes to get a formal qualification? Find that out and pursue it.

      If however the answer is the first of these, ie credentialing then you could seek to undertake RPL (recognition of prior learning) in a VET qualification or Higher Ed (university) qualification, this involves providing evidence to an institution that will evaluate your skills and experience and grant you status in one of their qualifications. You may also need to undertake additional study in order to complete the qualification. There is a fee for both the RPL and the study of course. This might be seen as a shortcut, combing both your 25 years experience usefully with your newly acquired knowledge to get you to a formal VET/HE credential quickly.

      If you do not want to take this pathway you could … and I hesitate to suggest this given what we have seen so far on the value of it … join the ACS and have them evaluate your experience and award you professional membership as either a Certified Technologist or Certified Professional. See http://www.acs.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/7763/Pathways-to-Certification.pdf for the pathways to certification. Despite the negative comments, this ACS assessment is undertaken against standards that have been agreed by industry and government together with practitioners. It has always been the case that professional membership of ACS is suitably regarded since its a judgement by your peers that you have competence and experience in your chosen discipline. It is recognised, if not demanded by those employers who have the need of such credentialled people. It is also recognised by the insurance industry through the ACS Professional Standards Scheme where CPs can qualify for the benefits of limited liability http://www.acs.org.au/sfia-certification/acs-professional-standards-scheme

      I agree it used to be the case that ACS acted as a gatekeeper to admit only those who somehow were deemed worthy and resist all others who had pretension to joining. Today ACS is inclusive, it’s the gateway to admission rather than the gatekeeper.

      It uses the SFIA framework to identify those who work in ICT and recognises that ICT is not just CS, not just software development, not just ICT procurement, not just Information security etc, but many different things that make up the ICT ecosystem. See http://www.acs.org.au/sfia-certification/mysfia/about-sfia for a quick overview of the SFIA framework and its uses. Without wishing to rehearse SFIA it is a skill set of some 96 competences that are needed at some level by business. They include both technical and professional as well as generic business skills. The SFIA Framework recognises that not all in ICT will be leaders, not all will be followers and sets various checkpoints along the way for people to judge where they are at, and where they need to be AND in a business context so it’s a career management tool, it’s a capacity management tool, it’s also a skills gap tool. That’s the reason why ACS uses it to underpin its Certification Program.

      Hope this helps.

      I am a Fellow of the ACS, I am a Certified Professional and I am passionate about advocating ICT professionalism. I have always held the view that no matter how good i am at my job, or you are at yours, if you are not a member of your professional body, then you fall short in my view of being true professional. You have not chosen to make a public affirmation of your ethical position, you have not chosen to put the public first, you have not chosen to declare your honesty in dealings, nor your commitment to life long professional development. You may well practice all of these but how would anyone know? By professing your membership of a professional body than enforces a Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (http://www.acs.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/4901/Code-of-Professional-Conduct.pdf) you are putting yourself out there saying you can judge me against this standard and if I am found lacking then call me to account.

      I chose to join ACS more than 20 years ago and lacking qualifications I joined as an affiliate when all you needed to do was have an interest in IT. I did nothing with that membership for a good many years except pay the renewal and gathered experience so that I could join the professional division of the Society. I took the second pathway initially.

      What value has ACS brought to me?

      It provided me a credential in my chosen career of IT
      It motivated me to undertake IT qualifications firstly through TAFE and secondly through University (on top of my first degree in politics and sociology)
      It encouraged me to get involved in the Society to make a change that mattered
      It allowed me to lead task forces enquiring into issues like skills gaps in the workforce and ageism in ICT
      It facilitated my participation in competency design and programs in the VET AQF framework
      Members elected me to lead the South Australian Branch as Chairman on and off over 10 years and continuously as a Branch Executive Committee member since 1999.
      I had the privilege of serving as a national Vice President twice – a decade apart and as a Board Director in the Community Engagement portfolio. ACS has meant that I have learned about governance, I have learned about management of large budgets and smaller ones, I have learned about others and their careers in ICT. I have learned how to get along in a team when the team is drawn from diverse occupations and I have learned about standards of behaviour and of competences.

      In spite of the negatives that exist in all membership based organisations, and that’s what ACS is, it really is a case of you get out of your membership what you are prepared to put in and I encourage everyone working in ICT to join us to make the changes that you think ought to be made to make it the best it can be for us all.

      • Thanks for the comments Brenda.

        RPL sounds like the way to go.

        You state, “It has always been the case that professional membership of ACS is suitably regarded since its a judgement by your peers that you have competence and experience in your chosen discipline. It is recognised, if not demanded by those employers who have the need of such credentialled people. It is also recognised by the insurance industry through the ACS Professional Standards Scheme where CPs can qualify for the benefits of limited liability”

        Which peers? Most, (and it seems others in this thread) find nobody haven’t heard of ACS or see value in it if they have. (Especially in the employment market).

        It sounds like you have almost made a career out of the ACS. Me, I’ve just been working solidly in IT. I manage staff and budgets. I have very little time to attend the mandatory ACS education hours that I would have to do to maintain CP status.

        Insurance I am covered under our companies.

        As to practicing ethics… Normally if you are not ethical in this industry you are quickly shunned and word get’s around very quickly. The ACS makes NO check that a person actually behaves in an ethical manner and does not seem to enforce this in any way, it’s just a statement.

        In any case, thanks for the comments and information, appreciated.

        • Hi Simon you said

          “Which peers? Most, (and it seems others in this thread) find nobody haven’t heard of ACS or see value in it if they have. (Especially in the employment market).”

          Those peers who have created the standard against which your experience and skills on the job would be judged Simon. Standards, as you know, don’t come out of thin air, but are an outcome of some process which is sufficiently agreed to represent what ought to be.

          You also said:

          ” I have very little time to attend the mandatory ACS education hours that I would have to do to maintain CP status.”

          See now I have a problem with this statement in terms of professionalism because a professional in EVERY profession makes a commitment to keeping their skills and knowledge current, and that does not mean doing the same thing you’ve always done every day, but seeking out innovation and researching in your discipline. You’d expect that the doctor you visit is someone like this in his/her field and indeed, I don’t know, but suspect that the Dr must indeed meet their Professional Development requirement in order to be able to continue to practice.

          Why should my expectations of my fellow ICT professional practitioners be any different? Oh unless we aren’t really a profession? But we are, and the ACS Professional Standards Scheme tells you and me and the world that we are, so we should demand the same requirements in our profession as other professions.

          Incidentally some of the on the job experience you get which falls into research and innovation can be counted towards maintaining your PD hours for CP so maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as you currently think Simon.

          and again Simon you said:

          “As to practicing ethics… Normally if you are not ethical in this industry you are quickly shunned and word get’s around very quickly. The ACS makes NO check that a person actually behaves in an ethical manner and does not seem to enforce this in any way, it’s just a statement.”

          Like most professions, the disciplinary scheme operates on a complaints regime. that is someone is complained about to the Professional Body and they investigate and deal with the matter. ACS has a disciplinary process which you can read about in the ACS Rules if you wish to pursue it. http://www.acs.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/4903/ACS-Rules-Nov-2010.pdf

          • Sorry but my experience and skills on the job are surely measured by what I can do? (ie Areas of knowledge, projects completed etc). Saying I have ACS CP means nothing really. Even a B.Sci (Computing) means very little these days in terms of passing a job interview.

            I have time issues with completing the mandatory hours as I am usually keeping my skills current with hands on work, reading and research. Very little stays the same in IT, I’m sure most of us are learning new things every day on the job or are being exposed to new technologies whether we want to or not. (BYOD is a shining example).

            Look, I’m not saying the ACS doesn’t have a place, but I think, and it appears many others think the same way, that the whole ICT representation does need a serious look at.


      • I’ve been working in IT in Australia for nearly 30 years and never saw the point in joining the ACS.

        In Engineering, Medicine and Accountancy, being a Certified Professional and then a Fellow of the Society are important steps in your career. Not to begrudge your obvious effort and commitment to the ACS, being a Fellow of the ACS means nothing to an employer. On your CV you can put it under the same heading as being a member of Rotary – it tells me nothing about your skills as an IT professional.

        The ACS brand has no value in the Australian IT industry.

        • Hi Alan

          What does being a Fellow in medicine, engineering or accountancy tell you about that professional’s skills and capability that is different to being a Fellow in ICT? Does it help you find a senior practitioner in Taxation (accounting), in Civil Engineering or in Surgery? Well in the latter it does because you are a Fellow of a specific College eg FRACS (surgery).

          Why do you have different expectations of me? My CV tells you whether my skill set and experience is of use to you. What the Fellow does in most professions is tell you there has been a set of hurdles to jump over which has been done and as a result the fellow has been rewarded by his/her profession. That’s what my FACS means to me.

          If you believe that ACS has no brand value, then you are moving in different circles to those that I move in and that’s ok because it’s a big industry.

          If it really didn’t have value anywhere I’d be worried but the fact that universities seek ACS out to accredit their ICT courses, that the Government entrusts to us the assessment of skills for migration and to deliver the professional year program, which incidentally we were the *leading* profession to do so bringing with us the accountants and the engineers, provides some indication that we are not useless, we’re not irrelevant and we’ve been doing this for some time now.

          What Matt Barrie’s comments have done for us is to give us a platform to display our organisation and our members. I hope that more of you will join us to help us shape the profession for the future. Remember we are only 50 years old as a profession and so there’s still lots of maturity to be reached. The sooner we get more of the 240,000 ICT workers involved the sooner we can get there!

          I look forward to the nay-sayers coming inside the tent to work with us to ensure our relevance and value for the future.

          • The ACS only became involved in course accreditation etc for the primary reason of MONEY though.

            What a lot of Australian IT workers don’t like is that the ACS held itself up to do this. A tiny subset of the people involved in IT in Australia.

            None of us asked the ACS to do this on our behalf. Now it seems we are stuck with them. I’m not saying it’s necessarily a bad thing, but it was imposed rather than agreed upon and the ACS shouldn’t forget this.

          • Hi again Simon :)

            The ACS only became involved in course accreditation etc for the primary reason of MONEY though.

            Are you serious? it actually costs ACS money and the universities in terms of time and resources as well as a fee which just covers the actual costs incurred in putting a team of volunteers together to undertake the accreditation.

            “What a lot of Australian IT workers don’t like is that the ACS held itself up to do this. A tiny subset of the people involved in IT in Australia. None of us asked the ACS to do this on our behalf. Now it seems we are stuck with them. I’m not saying it’s necessarily a bad thing, but it was imposed rather than agreed upon and the ACS shouldn’t forget this.”

            ACS has been doing it for a few years now, and we were asked to do it by universities and industry of the time. Why wouldn’t they ask the professional body to do it? The professional body has no vested interest other than what is in the best interest of the profession and those who practice in it, ie you and me.

            If you think the ACS as the professional body for ICT isn’t doing a good job of this then get involved and make change happen.

            Who would you have do it Simon?

          • This is my last post on this topic.

            One good thing about this is the amount of discussion on the subject it has generated!

            We’ll have to agree to disagree on some items.

            An industry body IS required, but I do think the ACS needs work. Universities and government also need to be approached as to WHY is the ACS doing this work? Should we improve the ACS? Give it more funding? Disband it and make a new body?

            In reference to above, “why wouldn’t they ask the professional body to do it?”
            My question is, WHO made ACS THE professional body in the first place?

            The ACS does do a lot of good things, my colleague is actually ACS CP and does attend a lot of ACS education seminars. Some she thinks are worthwhile, others she doesn’t.

            Anyway, food for thought, back to work for me.

          • Ok Simon we will call it to an end with this post.

            Just some clarification for readers to see.

            ACS is NOT an INDUSTRY body, it’s a professional body. Potted history about how IT became the professional body because it was the first one out there, before computer science existed back in the 1950s and 60s ACS was born by people like you of the day who saw benefit in talking with each other and networking.

            ACS is NOT a union that represents members in the way that a union does, it’s a body that represents the profession and the people in that profession whether they are members or not. Representation being based on standards and ethics which are part of any profession.

            People join because they see merit in this or for any of the reasons folks have stated. I have even heard one guy who joined because the benefits gave him cheaper insurance on his sports car :)

            There is an industry body its called AIIA the Australian Information Industry Association and it represents the employers.

            There is a union of sorts called APESMA the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia.

            And as you and others no doubt know there are groups which appeal to the various sub disciplines of ICT such as ISACA, DAMA, PMI, etc.

            All the best Simon and thanks for engaging in this discussion.

          • PS: Looking at the ACS board membership list does not endeavour a great deal of optimism.

            Most seem to work for companies few people would have heard of, worked in IT recruitment , worked in government or universities.

            There’s no “Head of BHP / Westpac / Telstra IT for 10 years” type people.

            Agree with comments elsewhere that the entire ICT representation in Australia needs seriously looking at.

          • Simon

            Does this make you feel any better about ACS support from industry players of significance?

            http://www.acs.org.au/sfia-certification/acs-certification/testimonials It’s not a long list that’s shown there but I think you will agree it’s an impressive one?

            Whilst we are on the subject of industry relevance how about this list of ACS’s professional partners?

            These are companies who can and do find value in partnering with the ACS for the benefit of their staff and their company.

          • I have to endorse Brenda’s point, and emphasise a repeating madness that I observe.

            I’ve been involved in many project reviews, assessments and recoveries from the early 1990’s to the present day. I’ve also done extensive second-level analysis of reviews on failed IT initiatives. One thing that has constantly astounded me is the propensity of organisations to engage people who have no, or completely inadequate qualifications for the task they are performing. I’m not talking about the ACS qualifications – I’m talking about ANY qualifications at all. And I’m talking about people who have taken no steps across their entire careers – some as long as my own, to sharpen their axe!

            No right-minded business will ask somebody to do legal work unless the person is a qualified, accredited legal professional. The same goes for accounting and serious engineering. Yet it seems that it’s OK and in fact desirable to engage IT people who have only ever been self-taught – whose expertise might run to building some whiz-bang piece of software but which has never included a proper rounded education that includes even the first piece of business savvy.

            I’ve seen people who are set up to fail in the IT world more often than can be imagined – people appointed as project managers of major IT transformations who have never managed even painting a room; people appointed as enterprise architects who can’t visualise two cubes stacked one on top of another; people tasked with user acceptance testing who have no idea of how to formulate a single set of valid data let alone numerous sets of invalid data and conditions. And I’ve seen people who have failed in one role successfully apply for the same role in other organisations. How can this be a justification for our current system of avoiding people who have proper credentials and qualifications?

            Building skills and expertise across the IT industry is an essential part of the digital era. OK, so the ACS may not yet have the most riveting and relevant agenda, but at least it has an agenda that can be critiqued and improved. What do other organisations have?

            Oh by the way – if we are going to start bashing the ACS, how about we level the playing field and tear into the other “IT Professional” organisations and their pay-for-qualification arrangements. I am on record for robust criticism of a qualification known as CGEIT, which is in my view one of the most fraudulent credential names available in the market today.

  16. ACS needs to become ‘relevant’

    They’re more interested in spamming members about their (quite expensive) courses, rather then delivering value. Amusing enough my former employer decided we all needed to join & offered to pay for our membership. Why not I thought, if it’s not going to cost me anything. But the ACS struggled to allow me to join as I didn’t have a uni degree or any of official certification. Apparently 20+yrs in the industry, 30+ IT related courses doesn’t really count for much in their eyes.

  17. Like many posters here, I regarded the ACS as irrelevant for most of my career, which began in 1977. It wasn’t until I moved solidly into my current work on governance of IT that I joined the ACS, and I did so then because it became clear to me that the ACS does have a big interest in advancing the IT profession not just by developing entry level skills, but by developing the capabilities of government and business to use IT effectively and efficiently. It is through this attention to the “demand side” that the ACS can improve the employment prospects for future generations of IT exerts – noting that IT expertise in the digital era involves a core of scientists and technicians who will develop the underlying technologies and vast numbers of engineers and innovators who will apply the technologies in everyday life.

    The ACS has been a stalwart supporter of my national and international work on governance of IT. It has done more than any other professional or industry organisation to promote awareness and understanding of the world-leading guidance on governance of IT in the Australian marketplace, and I can testify that it has facilitated access to this knowledge not just for young IT professionals, but also for a surprising number of company directors who see value in being members of the ACS as well.

    The ACS that I joined is far from perfect – but in the few years that I have been a member it has improved markedly, and it has had a clear, definite impact on how government and large business organisations approach their planning and use of IT, and management of their IT workforces. In that time there has also been change. The new governance and management models are an improvement, though I think there is a way to go. What would help a great deal in driving forward the agenda for improvement of the ACS is for the rock-throwers to come inside the glass house and add their energy to making the ACS the most effective possible vehicle for advancing the IT industry and the IT profession – and who in their right mind would not want an effective organisation pursuing these goals.

    Like all membership organisations, the ACS gives back as much as its members put in. It isn’t a free ride to a cushier job and a higher income. Rather, it’s a tool that you can use, in conjunction with your peers, to drive a better future. Who, apart from the perpetual knockers, wouldn’t want to be part of that?

  18. The ACS is still around? I remember a totally moribund organisation back in the late 80s, but haven’t heard or seen anything much since. I don’t work in the IT industry, but do try to keep abreast of my hobby, and somehow the ACS just doesn’t appear on the radar.

  19. I have learned from the posts to this forum that many of you do not know the ACS and that’s ACS’ bad for not being smarter about getting its messages out so that people who should be interested in it can know why they should be.

    I want to bring to your attention the statement made by ACS President Dr Nick Tate today. The ACS is in for the long haul and despite its critics, replies Dr Nick Tate. In it you will see he gives more factual information about the ACS and its ambitions. it shows the profile of the Society where our 22,000 members have an average age of 36, half our members are under 40 and we have nearly 2000 young members between 16 and 25 years of age.

    It provides a view of ACS that many of the commentators here are not familiar with, and whilst ignorance never stops people from making wild assertions or indeed any sort of assertions, one would expect, or at least I would expect that professional ICT practitioners, that is those who understand what professionalism is, would not without checking their facts first.

    If you see yourself as more that *just* a coder/software engineer/information architect etc, then you probably are not represented here as one of those making unsubstantiated, erroneous statements so I am not speaking to you, there’s no need prima facie. As for the rest then please do yourself a favour and read what Nick has to say and just think about whether the ACS he describes is an organisation you can work with to meet your needs and ours (I am a member).

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/business-it/building-a-computer-society-for-the-future-20130207-2dzvs.html#ixzz2KBWiOvLc

    • Oh Btw, I was a business analyst at the time I reviewed taking up ACS membership and I couldnt find a single item provided by ACS that represented value for my membership money.

  20. The real motive for Mr Barrie’s uninformed rant – the off-shoring of Australian IT with the ACS seeking to protect it…

    “But what about the turmoil this will create for Australian workers? Barrie says undoubtedly there will be pain for some people and that the internet has already been “terribly disruptive”. ”

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/the-aussie-making-a-motza-from-offshoring-whitecollar-jobs-20120220-1thyc.html#ixzz2KBdQmOBz

  21. Hey Matt,

    Why don’t you hand back your Pearcey Award (ACS) and then resign as a fellow of Engineers Australia (another authority that does exactly what you accuse ACS of doing – accrediting overseas uni graduates of Australian uni’s aplying for skilled migration? ?

    While you are at it, why don’t you explain that after 12 years as a “professor” your engineering graduates cannot program….

    Matt…are you there? Hello.

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