Opposing skills bodies the Australian Computer Society (ACS) and IT Pro Australia have held talks to discuss cooperation rather than competition amid the nation's skills shortage.
Backed by global certification group CompTIA, IT Pro Australia launched in 2005, pitting itself against the ACS. Both run skills accreditation programs for their members.
However, with the industry struggling with a lack of skilled IT workers coming through the ranks, IT Pro regional director Edward Mandla told ZDNet Australia the two organisations last week discussed working together.
"I'd like to get ACS on the board of IT Pro. I had a discussion with Philip Argy, the president," said Mandla.
"We are totally and utterly complimentary. The people they say no to, and they say no every day -- 'you're not qualified enough, you don't have a degree, you can't join the ACS'. These people get really upset. They hold long-term grudges with the ACS then later on when they're qualified they think 'bugger you, you said no to me when I was young'."
Cooperation between the two could see IT workers initially gain accreditation status through IT Pro, which has less demanding membership criteria than ACS. Once IT Pro accreditation is gained, a worker could then go on to achieve ACS accreditation, according to Mandla.
"We need to come up with a system where we can say, look, you can't be an ACS member yet but you're an IT Pro. There is a logical training path that you need to go to be in the top end of the industry. Then you'll get professional indemnity insurance, then you'll get letters after your name.
"At the end of the day we all want to be like doctors and lawyers and accountants and be highly respected, but there is a logical path to get there," said Mandla.
"I would really like to see the organisations more closely linked."
Mandla denied the talks were a ploy by IT Pro Australia to lure the ACS's larger membership base -- ACS claimed it had 14,000 members late last year; IT Pro claims it will have 5,000 by June '07. Each organisation has strengths to complement the other, Mandla added.
"The ACS does not understand vendor certifications, we do," said Mandla.
The ACS offered good publications and resource libraries that could complement IT Pro, he said.
"The ACS can really lay out an academic path really, really well," said Mandla.
"I think once you're in the industry, you've got some qualifications, you're doing well, it would be logical to see what the ACS says about getting formal qualifications.
"I mean we should be, in theory, the feeder into that association."
ACS CEO Philip Argy was travelling and not available for interview, but confirmed Mandla's comments in a statement to ZDNet Australia today.
"We believe that the ACS and CompTIA IT Pro are not in competition with each other. We see the ACS as the natural progression after CompTIA IT Pro," he said.
"There have been discussions between the two organisations, however there is nothing concrete on the table as yet."