BCS enjoys boom time

The BCS is "absolutely on a roll" - that was the message from new president Geoff McMullen at the society's annual dinner last...

The BCS is "absolutely on a roll" - that was the message from new president Geoff McMullen at the society's annual dinner last month, attended by 330 members and other industry representatives.

McMullen pointed to several issues as proof of the society's progress. "Membership is at an all-time high - and most of the new people are in the junior graduate and student grades, which means we have a rich seam of future members," he said.

After being fairly static at about 33,000 for several years, membership has increased steadily for the past two years to a record 38,650 in October.

The number in the graduate grade for people in the early years of their IT careers has risen by 14% in the past year to more than 8,300, and the number of full-time student members has risen by 20%.

The BCS has been putting extra effort into recruiting younger members, especially by encouraging them to start their careers by joining their industry's professional body.

In addition, the number of business affiliates - whole organisations - has almost doubled to 146, bringing more individuals into direct or indirect contact with the society. There are plans to develop this further early next year.

Demand for BCS qualifications is also increasing, McMullen said. "The services and products we produce for both members and non-members are going great guns: mainly the professional development products and the phenomenally successful European Computer Driving Licence."

More than 1,000 IT specialists a month are taking courses offered by the BCS Information Systems Examinations Board, leading to certificates and diplomas in everything from systems analysis to software testing, project management and IT service management.

The number of people working towards the European Computer Driving Licence user qualification in the UK has now topped 300,000 - including 30,000 in October alone - since the BCS launched the scheme in the UK in May 1998.

New BCS forums and emphasis on the Web to involve more people - members and non-members - in the society's activities and discussions were set to increase the momentum, McMullen said.

"We have initiated a drastic reorganisation of the society, with a strong external manifestation through the Web site," he said. "We have elected new vice-presidents to oversee the forums and boards and the active membership is swinging right behind them."

He added, "We think the sector is not in a bad shape, despite the press. Every company is now a Web company, and the technology is becoming relatively commoditised, which enhances the attractiveness of implementing it. So it's a good place to work and be."

McMullen concluded by thanking chief executive Judith Scott, who plans to retire this year. "Scott has been our very effective and very successful chief executive for more than five years," McMullen said.

Scott used her previous senior business management experience to put the BCS on a firmer financial and business footing, which has largely enabled the society to move to its healthy position.

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