Just back from the TCANZ 2012 conference in Auckland where it was good to have two overseas speakers pushing us to consider ‘technical communications’ as a brand, even if most of us are so deep in the trenches doing the work that we don’t get often a chance to consider how to market our ‘profession’.
But that was their main argument — that we can’t really call technical communications a profession just yet, as it lacks the infrastructure that professions require, especially the standards, independent certifications and professional development that established ‘professions’ (law, accounting, architecture, for example) have. And that having that type of infrastructure is the best base from which to build the brand.
TCANZ this year has started a process to see what steps could be taken to introduce such measures in NZ and Australia. And, with training fairly ad hoc for most practitioners in New Zealand, I am very supportive of this work. I think with measurable standards we will be more clearly able to articulate our value to employers and clients.
The working party has though decided that the sector may be too small to support a full-blown certification programme but it is continuing its work to see what would work in a market our size.
A mentoring programme is one initial suggestion — so senior practitioners would help newcomers to the sector; and that sounds a good start.
If that all sounds a bit dry, don’t worry, my session is hopefully going to be more rock and roll meets user manuals than didactic lecture! Do come along — you’ll have fun and learn stuff.
The two-day, Auckland conference features some world-class speakers from the United States and Australia (Saul Carliner, Anne Gentle, Neil James) and a great bunch of very clued-up Kiwi presenters. Registrations open on 1 July.
I’d encourage all technical communicators to attend. The last TCANZ conference in 2010 was very well run and totally relevant. You can expect more of the same this year.