Computer science graduates do not have licensure exams. After college, those who’d like to make a living out of their ‘specialized education’ usually freelance or join companies or start-ups that dabble in ICT. These companies are likewise not regulated by any specialized agency of government.
If I trust my doctor, my accountant, my lawyer, and even my librarian to do the job right because the government says they’re qualified, can I give the same trust to this fresh graduate from STI who claims to have mastered the art of database management? Let’s take this line of questioning a step further. Can the airport trust the firm that’s commissioned to design its automated navigational system? Can the government of a third-world country trust a foreign newcomer, a virtual unknown entity, to protect the right of suffrage for some 50 million voters? If these ‘contractors’ screw up, do they lose the right to practice their ‘ICT profession’ or enter into similar contracts involving programming? I think not.
Government regulation for the traditional sciences and professions doesn’t seem to apply to ICT-inclined fields. There is no standard of quality, there is no in-house body of experts that can determine the validity of work performed. To put it bluntly, if it works, then we have no problem. If it doesn’t, you’re fired - or technically, you lose a client. Reputation, therefore, seems to be the only measure of quality.
Now, yes, we do have our trusted (not to mention, star-studded) Senate to ask questions when things go wrong... but this only happens when a potential media-crazy issue invades the headlines and, even then, their knowledge of issues is limited to what they can glean from a select group of experts who, themselves, are not accountable to anybody. Neither can we rely on the CICT which serves as a mere recommendatory body, a toothless tiger, really, when the “real” departments don’t support its resolutions. Though there have been talks of making this a full-fledged department under the Executive’s wing, the possibility that they’d focus on quality control seems highly unlikely.
As we grasp for potential solutions in an era marked by leap-frogging advances in ICT, only time will tell if the problems raised by this fledgling industry are properly addressed and given due importance. For now, we’re stuck with luck, trial and error, and the hope that, as prospective buyers of highly technical services, we’re not being sold lemons.