Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS)



Professor Tetsuro Kakeshita, International Leader in Computer Science Education, Accreditation and Certification

This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Professor Tetsuro Kakeshita.

Professor Tetsuro KakeshitaTetsuro Kakeshita received his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from Kyushu University in 1989. Currently he is an associate professor at Saga University, Japan.

His major research interests include quantitative analysis of ICT education and ICT certification, and complexity analysis of database and software systems. He developed a systematic education program in computer science in his department in 2002. The program was accredited by JABEE (Japan Accreditation Board in Engineering Education), in 2003, which is the second accredited computing program in Japan. He then collaborated with JABEE from 2004 as a chair/member of several accreditation teams, a criterion committee member, and a member of an accreditation committee in charge of the computing and IT-related domain. He established the Forum for high level human resource development at IPSJ (Information Processing Society of Japan), in 2007. The discussion at the forum led to the creation of the certified IT professional (CITP) system which IPSJ is just starting. He also developed an accreditation organization for IT professional graduate schools with JABEE and IPSJ in 2010. He received an excellent educator award from IPSJ in 2013. He also joined ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7/WG20 from 2013 and currently is a co-editor of the revision project of ISO/IEC 24773 Software and Systems Engineering: Schemes for the Certification of Software and Systems Engineering Professionals. He is a member of IPSJ, IEEE Computer Society and ACM.

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Q: Tetsuro, thank you for sharing your deep experiences with our audience.

A:  "Thank you for providing me an opportunity to share knowledge through this interview. I used to study at the Department of Computer Science, McGill University as a visiting student when I was a Ph.D. candidate. I also had a chance to visit a Canadian university1 for CEAB (Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board) accreditation as an international observer in 2005. I was an editor of the IPSJ Journal of Digital Practices, for their special issue on certification for high level IT professionals in 2011. The special issue also contained an article on the CIPS certification system. So I have experienced various aspects of education, accreditation and certification both in Japan and Canada, so I hope this interview provides a better understanding of these aspects."

Q: Recently your outstanding paper entitled "Requirement Analysis of Computing Curriculum Standard J07 and Japan Information Technology Engineers Examination Using ICT Common Body of Knowledge" was specially selected for JIP (Journal of Information Processing) Vol. 22, No.1. Can you outline the domains covered by the paper?

A:  "Thank you for mentioning our recent research contribution. In this paper, we analyzed the relationship among the various domains of computing curriculum and the most major IT examination in Japan."

Q: What did you hope to accomplish with the paper?

A:  "The Computing Curriculum Standard J07 was developed by IPSJ mainly based on CC2005, Computing Curricula 2005: The Overview Report, and the related curriculum guidelines. The Computing Curricula is separated into five domains, CS, CE, SE, IS and IT. The guidelines of these domains are developed by different communities so that the relationship among the five domains was not clear for society or for college professors majoring in computing. I think that such situation is not desirable since industry does not understand various educational efforts conducted by academia. As a result, the studentís learning effort tends to be neglected during job hunting activities and after they are employed.

The Japan Information Technology Engineer Examination (JITEE) is a large IT examination in Japan with 400,000 examinees each year. Although JITEE is well recognized throughout the industry, not many universities utilize the requirements for their education. This is another mismatch between academia and industry.

Taking into consideration the above situation, in this paper I tried to clarify the relationship among J07 domains and JITEE. This makes it possible to reduce mismatches and to promote collaboration among academic communities and industry."

Q: What were the outcomes of the paper?

A:  "The paper clarifies the relationship among the five J07 domains and eight JITEE examination categories, utilizing mapping to a common ICTBOK which we have developed. We estimated importance level as well as requirement level for knowledge and skill of the domains and examination categories in terms of 23 fields and 155 areas defined by ICTBOK. Such evaluation is carried out through the analysis of the J07 curriculum guidelines and the syllabus of JITEE examination categories."

Q: How are the outcomes of use to government, industry and education?

A:  "The Japanese Ministry of Education is currently running a revision of the Professional Engineer qualifications. The revision for the IT domain focuses on the clarification of the knowledge and skills demonstrated by the qualifications in order to promote collaboration with JITEE examination.

The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is currently developing a conference to promote IT-related skill standards. The purpose of the conference includes clarifying knowledge, skills and tasks required by IT professionals working at various domains. Information Technology Promotion Agency (IPA), which is an agency administered by METI, recently published the i-Competency Dictionary as a reference BOK and task model for various skill standards for IT professionals. The concept of our paper is thus going to be reflected in the development of the future skill standards and IT-related BOK. Since the skill standard is widely accepted in the Japanese IT industry, we are expecting that our outcomes will be utilized for IT human resource development for industry.

The Information Processing Society of Japan (IPSJ) is planning to develop a new computing curriculum standard (J17), which is expected to be published in 2017. The i-Competency Dictionary also references the current version of IPSJ curriculum standard (J07). I expect that our research concepts will also be utilized during the curriculum standard development. The curriculum standard will be referenced by many Japanese universities for their curriculum development. Since IPSJ takes the major role at the IT-related accreditation in Japan, the new curriculum standard will also be utilized for quality assurance of IT-related college education."

Q: How are the outcomes of value to your country?

A:  "I think that education at academia, human resource development at industry, and evaluation of personís ability should be designed consistently. However, actual systems for education, human resource development and certification are designed and operated independently by each authority in Japan. I hope that the outcomes of our research can contribute to the Japanese society in order to increase consistency among the systems in IT-related domains."

Q: How can the outcomes be used internationally by other countries, such as in EU, US, Canada?

A:  "I think that a similar situation that I explained above can also be found in other countries. In this sense, the same concept can be applied to each country to increase consistency among various systems within the country.

I also think that our framework based on mapping to ICTBOK can be extended to clarify relationships amongst various systems for education, human resource development and certification in many countries. Then it will become possible to promote international collaboration among such systems in the IT-related domain."

Q: Can you profile the CITP certification system which IPSJ recently started, and the value to practitioners, government, industry, society and education?

A:  "CITP certification is designed to provide equivalence among various IT qualifications such as JITEE, private certification at each IT vendor, and Professional Engineer qualifications in terms of the IT-related skill standards in Japan. It also aims at conformity to the related ISO standards. We utilize existing qualifications and certifications as building blocks to develop CITP so that CITP can be considered an ďadaptorĒ of a certification or a qualification scheme for the conformity to ISO standard on certification. Such an approach is considered to be reasonable in order to establish a large scale IT professional certification.

IPSJ is planning CITP to be accredited by IFIP IP3 for the conformity to ISO/IEC 24773. The CITP certification can then be internationally used after it is accredited. In general, a certification is utilized as evidence that a person has a certain level of ability. Thus the CITP certification system will be useful for a practitioner or industry to prove their ability.

CITP allows clarifying of the ability of each practitioner in terms of the IT-related skill standards developed by the Japanese government. From the viewpoint of the certification users, CITP can be utilized to provide requirements for recruitment and/or job assignment for IT professionals. CITP also provides objectives for human resource development at industry and individual career/skill development planning. The objectives provided by CITP can be utilized to improve college level education as well as the skill development of each student.

IPSJ is planning to develop a professional community whose members are CITP certification holders. The community is developed for social contribution as well as skill development of the members. Such social contribution activities, including collaboration among various organizations and/or policy making, will raise the social position of the IT professional in the long run."

Q: The Information Processing Society of Japan (IPSJ) received a national profiles survey inquiry related to IT certification, qualification, e-skill standards, IT curriculum and accreditation scheme from CEPIS in July 2013. What was your role with the survey?

A:  "There are many activities related to IT certification, qualification, e-skill standards, IT curriculum and accreditation scheme in Japan. I asked for a summary or introduction of each activity to the related organizations. Then I integrated the responses to complete the survey as an editor."

Q: Can you summarize the findings of the survey?

  • The IT Strategic Headquarters of the Japanese government, established within the Cabinet, plays the main role for devising national level policy. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has jurisdiction over a broad area of ICT in Japan. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has jurisdiction over the education system and administers the Professional Engineer qualifications.
  • Information-technology Promotion Agency (IPA), administered by METI, develops several IT-related skill standards and the Common Career/Skill Framework (CCSF)2 as a reference for IT human resource development. IPA also runs JITEE examination which is also used in Asian countries.
  • Japan Information Technology Services Industry Association (JISA) is the largest community of IT vendors. Its members include leading system integrators, computer system designers, development and related service providers, etc.
  • Japan Users Association of Information Systems (JUAS) is the largest community of IT user companies.
  • The Information Processing Society of Japan (IPSJ) proposed the Computing Curriculum Standard J07 in 2007. IPSJ is also in cooperation with JABEE on IT-related college level accreditation. IPSJ recently started CITP certification system as I already explained.
  • Japan Accreditation Board for Engineering Education (JABEE) is an accreditation body to promote college level engineering education. JABEE is a founding member of the Seoul Accord which is an international agreement for mutual recognition in IT domain.
Q: What surprised you?

A:  "I have joined or monitored most of the above activities for ten years. However I noticed couple of activities which are unfamiliar to me during the survey. At the same time, I felt that few organizations understand the entire story."

Q: How will the results influence the future?

A:  "It was valuable to share the national profiles survey result with the related organizations. I also recognized the importance of sharing information amongst related organizations in order to promote mutual understanding and collaboration."

Q: ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7/WG20 is working to revise ISO/IEC 24773. Can you describe your role and what you hope to accomplish?

A:  "ISO/IEC 24773, Schemes for the Certification of Software and Systems Engineering Professionals, is planned to be developed as a multipart standard. I am a co-editor of the Part 1: General Requirements of the ISO/IEC 24773.

I hope to provide a consistent set of requirements that a certification system should keep in order to develop a reliable network of internationally acceptable certifications in this domain. Since software and systems often play crucial roles in the real world, the responsibility of the software and systems engineer is often heavy. I think that a certification is a good (although not the only) means to verify the ability of an engineer.

I also hope to provide a better framework to clarify relationships among various certifications and qualifications in software and systems engineering. Here qualifications are done on a one time basis only, while certification implies periodical re-certification and continuing professional development (CPD)."

Q: What was the purpose for ISO/IEC 24773:2008?

A:  "The old ISO/IEC 24773:2008 was designed as a comparison framework for certifications and qualifications for software engineers. ISO/IEC 24773:2008 is useful to compare various certifications and qualifications in the domain of software engineering; however, the notion of requirements and conformity was not defined."

Q: What is the purpose of the new 24773?

A:  "ISO/IEC 24773 is designed as a conformity requirement standard for certification schemes for software and systems engineering professionals. The new ISO/IEC 24773 will provide minimum requirements for certifications for software and systems engineers. The standard will also provide a comparison framework which ISO/IEC 24773:2008 provided."

Q: What new requirements will be added to 24773?

A:  "One extension is the addition of requirements for certifications for systems engineers.

Requirements of the new 24773 will be essentially the same as the comparison criteria defined by the current 24773:2008. However, there may be additional requirements based on the discussion at ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7/WG203. For example, the standard will recommend that each certification or qualification map their BOK and the expected set of tasks to a reference BOK such as SWEBOK and an SLCP standard such as ISO/IEC 12207:2008. The recommendation is introduced to clarify the relationship among various certifications and qualifications.

The ISO/IEC 24773 is developed as an extension to the generic conformity standard ISO/IEC 17024 for certification of persons. Since the 17024 was revised in 2012, the corresponding requirements are modified accordingly."

Q: Who should manage the global accreditation service for certification of software and systems engineering domain?

A:  "Third party accreditation is an important means to prove conformity to an international standard. I think that IFIP IP3 is a candidate organization to provide such global accreditation service for new ISO/IEC 24773, since IP3 is the only organization that has the experience to accredit certification schemes based on the current ISO/IEC 24773. Although I do not intend to exclude other candidate of accreditation bodies, I expect that IP3 is willing and prepared to become an accreditation body to assess conformity to 24773. Such activity will also be valuable to raise the international position of IP3 and IFIP."

Q: What is the impact and value of the new changes to: business and industry, governments, practitioners, education, society?

A:  "I expect that the new standard will facilitate continuous improvement of each certification and qualification. By clarifying the relationship among various certifications or qualifications, each practitioner and the society will be able to select appropriate certification and/or qualification considering their needs and current situation (such as achievement level). I also expect promotion of mutual collaboration among different certification and/or qualification systems."

Q: What should businesses do about the new changes?

A:  "IT service providers can utilize certification and/or qualification as a tool for IT professional development and evaluation of a personís ability. At the same time, they can utilize a certification or a qualification as a means to assign jobs and to recruit for software and systems engineers. If they are well prepared to demonstrate the ability of their employees using certification and/or qualification, then the demonstrated evidence can be utilized as a business tool to prove their strength from the viewpoint of human resources.

IT service users can utilize a certification and a qualification as a means to evaluate a person or an IT service provider for recruiting or job assignment purposes. However it is important for a user to clarify the required ability for the target job. This implies that an IT user should become smarter."

Q: How should government use the new changes?

A:  "A government has essentially two roles. The first role is a national policy maker related to IT. The second role is an IT service user. The two roles should be played in close relationship since these two roles strongly affect each other. From the viewpoint of IT policy making or leadership, it is important to clarify the required ability to realize the intended strategy or plan. The government should collaborate with more IT professionals than before in order to become a "smart" IT user."

Q: How should the new changes be reflected in education?

A:  "More sophisticated IT professionals are required at IT service providers and IT users including government. Thus, a higher level of IT skill will be required for college graduates, regardless of their specialty. Introduction of the new 24773 will clarify the requirements of certifications in more detail. Such requirements can be utilized to design an effective education program to develop high level IT professionals. Although I do not recommend an education program to satisfy all the requirements of 24773, knowledge and major skills should be trained through college level education. Such effort is valuable to increase the level of collaboration between academia and industry and to open up the future of the skill development of their students.

I also suggest that faculty members having interest in this matter participate in the development of BOK and the competency model for IT professionals from the viewpoint of academia."

Q: How can practitioners use the new changes?

A:  "A change will be an opportunity with adequate preparation, while it can be a threat without preparation. I hope that all practitioners reading this article understand the necessity of skill development. The required knowledge, skill and competency are changing depending on the market needs, so that life-long skill development is important. Certifications and qualifications will provide a guide for their career development and evidence of their ability. I think it is important for an IT professional to have enough ability so that they do not solely depend on their employer."

Q: Describe five areas of controversy in the areas that you work.

  • Development of professional community in the IT domain
  • Collaboration of bodies carrying different standpoints and/or interests
  • Appropriate balance between compatibility of various activities and uniqueness of each activity
  • Required ability for a professional who promotes value creation or innovation through harmonization of IT and various technologies
  • Raising the social position of the IT professional
Q: Do you feel computing should be a recognized profession on par with accounting, medicine and law with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, personal responsibility, public accountability, quality assurance and recognized credentials? [See and the Global Industry Council,]

A:  "Recognized professions such as accounting, medicine and law are protected by corresponding licensures. A licensure is typically composed of an education system, certification and a law. I think that we need to develop such a system in order to develop IT professionals in a systematic manner.

We, as IT professionals, also need to clearly define the scope of the tasks which require licensure. I recognize that IT professionals play a crucial role in mission critical tasks of various application domains. In such cases, licensure is useful. On the other side, there are many IT tasks which do not need a high level IT professional. We need to distinguish them and persuade society for the necessity of licensure in computing. The development of such a licensure system will require extensive and long term effort, so that we should learn from the experience of the recognized professions above."

Q: What do you wish to accomplish in the next three years?

A:  "I am expecting a safe launch of the CITP certification and a community of CITP certification holders. I also wish to work on the development project of ISO/IEC 24773 and Computing Curricula J17. These are big projects, so collaboration with my colleagues will be quite important to accomplish them."

Q: What improvements in policy should happen in the next two years and what would you like to see internationally?

A:  "I have observed many activities to clarify knowledge, skill and competence in the IT domain through my recent experiences in Japan, ISO standard development and the CEPIS survey on e-Skills. I expect that the relationship of BOKs among various IT certifications and qualifications will be clarified. I also expect that the notion of competence will be clarified so that the relationship of competencies among various certifications and qualifications can be clarified. Then collaboration of certifications and/or qualifications becomes possible. Such collaboration will be valuable for society to develop a network of IT certifications and qualifications in order to develop high level IT professionals."

Q: From your extensive speaking, travels, and work, please share some stories (amusing, surprising, unexpected, amazing).

A:  "I have joined various accreditation teams and visited many universities. I always meet excellent educators at each university, although teaching effort is less evaluated compared with research contribution. Their enthusiasm towards education can be easily observed from their teaching material and feedback to/from their students. I felt that such educators are quite valuable since they are not motivated by outside incentives such as career development. Their enthusiasm is a source of my effort in this domain.

Last year, I went to the Ministry of Education in order to talk about collaboration with other ministries. Since different ministries have different jurisdictions and they are quite sensitive about the invasion from each jurisdiction, it is usually difficult to build a collaboration of multiple ministries. However the officer I met was different. He quickly understood the necessity of collaboration between qualifications run by different ministries, and negotiated with the officer in charge of the other ministries for mutual collaboration."

Q: If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask, and then what would be your answer?

A:  "Well. I would like to express my thoughts and experiences through this interview.

An IT system often carries a crucial role and a heavy responsibility in modern organizations. So we can say that IT treats the life of an organization, while it is well known that a medical doctor treats a humanís life. We should become professionals who can fulfill our responsibilities. Certification and education systems are the means to achieve this goal.

At the same time, we should visualize and respect a professional having enough ability and/or outcomes. A seamless system of certification and education is essential to achieve this goal. Although competition among professionals is important to develop high level IT professionals, it is also necessary for such professionals to collaborate with each other to achieve better performances in society. To this end, a clear objective and plan become necessary to motivate the professionals. IPSJ is currently developing an IT professional community in order to discuss these matters.

Recently, IPSJ made an agreement with the Institute of Professional Engineers of Japan (IPEJ) in order to promote visualization of high level IT professional and development of professional community in IT domain. This is a part of our effort towards collaboration of different communities."

Q: Tetsuro, with your demanding schedule, we are indeed fortunate to have you do this interview. Thank you for sharing your deep experiences with our audience.

A:  "This interview was a good opportunity also for me to collect and integrate my thoughts. I appreciate Stephen for providing this opportunity."

1. I think I should not disclose the name of the university due to confidentiality.

2. The new version of CCSF (named i-Competency Dictionary) was published at the end of July 2014.

3. The new requirements and recommendations explained here are subject to change through the review and discussion process of the draft.