The ‘IT Professionalism Conference 2021’ was held during three half-day online sessions from April 20 to 22 by the eSkills Malta Foundation, in collaboration and partnership with the Irish Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition and IT Professionalism Europe, which work closely with key public actors from the European Commission and the European Parliament.

To address current and new challenges, one of the EU targets is to have 20 million IT professionals working by 2030 by revitalising current initiatives for professionalising the European IT workforce and calling on all stakeholders to increase their efforts and cooperation.

During the conference, participants gathered perspectives from Europe and other continents to identify the steps necessary to help meet the new EU target goals, including political initiatives, developing technologies and the outlook for young IT professionals.

The theme of the first day of the conference was ‘The Challenge of Professionalism in Europe and Beyond’.  The panel discussion featured speakers from different parts of the world who shared their experience on the topic. ‘IT Professionalism in Practice’ was the theme of the second day, which focused on tackling skills gaps in the sectors of software and blockchain. The third and final day dealt with ‘Becoming an IT Professional’. During the panel discussion, experiences and skills needed to start a career in IT were discussed. A ‘CV clinic’ was also held, during which participants explored how to improve their CV and motivation letter to get hired.

Maltese IT professionals’ willingness to upskill and remain relevant are constrained by time

After ITPE secretary general Austeja Trinkunaite gave an introduction to the webinar series, André Richier, principal administrator at the European Commission, gave an overview of the European Skills Agenda and the Pact for Skills, and the EU’s target of 20 million new IT professionals working by 2030. Anusca Ferrari, from the European Commission, discussed the importance of digital education to reach this ambitious target.

Mary Cleary, secretary general of the Irish Computer Society/ICS Foundation and chair of the CEN TC 428, Digital Competences and IT Professionalism, emphasised that education and professionalism are advanced by having practical standards in place.

Carm Cachia, on behalf of the eSkills Malta Foundation and Maltese Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, discussed the eSkills ICT Skills Monitor project currently being undertaken by the foundation.  The preliminary findings of the study already show Maltese IT professionals’ willingness to upskill and remain relevant are constrained by time.  This was leading to a skills gaps in Malta. Balazs Zorenyi from the European Commission confirmed this when discussing the new I-DESI report which tackled IT professionals supply and demand and where Europe stood globally.

Pierre Marro from the European Commission, Parisa Ghodous, project leader at University of Lyon 1, Helena Lovegrove, project leader at Digital Europe, and Joshua Ellul, chairman of the Malta Digital Innovation Authority and director of the University of Malta’s Centre for Distributed Ledger Technologies, discussed Blockchain, standards and maintaining professionalism and their relevance in Europe.

The conference proceeded with a panel discussion about what young IT professionals should expect in future in the IT sector, why one should join an IT professional body and what benefits this offers members and their career. The varied panel was made up of Conrad Attard, a lecturer at the University of Malta and at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, John Higgins from BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT (UK), Mike Hinchey from the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP), Terry Coatta from the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) (US), and Yaoko Nakagawa from the Information Processing Society of Japan (IPSJ), who offered their unique experiences and solutions.

A very interesting topic was discussed by Katarina Pazur Anicic from the University of Zagreb, about how to improve one’s CV based on the e-Competence Framework.

Ms Trinkunaite concluded the series of webinars and thanked the speakers, attendees and organisers who made the conference possible.

Claude Calleja, Executive, eSkills Malta Foundation

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