British Computer Society qualifications increase in popularity

IT staff and end-users are queuing up to get BCS qualifications, with demand increasing quickly for the society's Professional Examination, the Information...

IT staff and end-users are queuing up to get BCS qualifications, with demand increasing quickly for the society's Professional Examination, the Information Systems Examinations Board certificates and the European Computer Driving Licence, writes John Kavanagh.

"There has been remarkable growth," says chief executive Judith Scott. "The IS Examinations Board in particular has seen phenomenal growth, with demand doubling in the second half of the financial year to the end of April, compared with the first half.

"The professional exams are well above target, and the driving licence scheme for end-users is still doing extremely well."

The IS Examinations Board runs certificate and diploma schemes on topics ranging from project management to security, systems analysis and data protection.

The testing certificate has found instant success, with 200 candidates in the first six months after the launch last year and 400 in the past six months. Demand for the IT service management foundation certificate has increased from 370 on the first year to 1,414 last year and almost 1,050 in the first half of this year alone.

The project management qualification continues to be popular and is set for almost 700 candidates this year.

The BCS says the benefit of these qualifications is that they are independent of any supplier but developed in close consultation with industry. Each is overseen by its own examination board, which is made up of industry specialists in this field.

The society will be looking at accommodating the qualifications in its new points scheme for calculating eligibility for professional grade membership.

Meanwhile, the new BCS Professional Examination, which helps towards the society's professional qualifications, has seen a 30% increase on the previous exam in its first year, leading to calls for extra sittings.

At the same time the European Computer Driving Licence, which tests end-users' skills with word processing, spreadsheet, database, networking, graphics and other office software, has proved so successful in its first two years that the BCS has set up a business unit, led by a senior director.

The scheme is run for the UK by the BCS. In its first two years to May more than 60,000 logbooks were issued to 800 test and training centres - and this growth is expected to be accelerated by new activities, including extra marketing to business after an initial focus on colleges.

The new unit has taken on extra staff because of demand and is redesigning its Web pages to handle more enquiries, which normally come by telephone.

Automated tests are expected to be available soon, and an advanced qualification is being tried out in Denmark.

The qualification is offered across Europe by national bodies and has sparked interest from around the world, leading to the development of the International Computer Driving Licence, which is being taken up in Australia, Canada, South Africa and elsewhere.

Details of all the BCS qualifications are at

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