Coonan to launch new IT society

Come October 24, technology professionals will have the opportunity to join IT Pro Australia, an organisation established by powerful US-based lobby group, CompTIA (Computer Technology Industry Association).The society aims to build its membership by attracting people with vendor-based certifications, and is backed by a steering committee of industry heavyweights such as Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, Sun and Hewlett-Packard.

Come October 24, technology professionals will have the opportunity to join IT Pro Australia, an organisation established by powerful US-based lobby group, CompTIA (Computer Technology Industry Association).

The society aims to build its membership by attracting people with vendor-based certifications, and is backed by a steering committee of industry heavyweights such as Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, Sun and Hewlett-Packard.

Its main role, said CompTIA regional director Danika Bakalich, will be to help companies in the IT industry improve the qualifications and skills of their employees.

"Minister Coonan has agreed to launch IT Pro [and] we are really excited. We have been enthused with her interest in the industry .... She has redefined the goalposts as to what it means to be in the [IT] industry," Bakalich told ZDNet Australia&nbsp.

"We have been working for almost a year to build a framework for this association. How can we, as an industry group, strengthen and better communicate the value of well-educated and qualified professionals in the market?

"The whole point is to get people into the [IT] industry and keep them in.

"Members of IT Pro will have instant access to all vendor-based training programmes along with the ability to network with other members," Bakalich said.

Yearly membership is $85, but $25 for students. The organisation will immediately have access to thousands of IT professionals in the country, including 5,000 from Qantas and Telstra's 1,500.

According to Bakalich, a soft launch of IT Pro will kickoff in mid-August when a Web site offering memberships to the fledgling body goes live.

"We are starting off with an e-association focussing on building communities and within six months of launching we will be holding forums -- some of which have already started -- around the country to bring individuals and professionals together for networking opportunities," said Bakalich.

Filling a gap
IT Pro should not be compared with other organisations such as the Australian Computer Society because of its sole focus on a vendor-qualified participation, as opposed to academic graduates.

A university degree is not the benchmark for membership, Bakalich said. "We cover everyone from kids at school doing a Cisco academic programme, to coders and architects -- but with a focus on industry qualifications and skills."

She said IT Pro will work closely with the ACS. Both parties are looking at endorsing each others' membership programmes, she added.

CompTIA has been operational in Australia for three years, and despite the fact it is an influential lobby group in the US, Bakalich said: "We are not a lobbying body in Australia at all. We have been referred to as that in the past but it has been incorrect. We represent the industry so if the industry wants us to make comments to any particular body then we will if it is appropriate."