Contractors called on to raise their profile

IT contract staff are being urged to raise the profile of their contribution to the IT industry - not least through greater...

IT contract staff are being urged to raise the profile of their contribution to the IT industry - not least through greater involvement in the BCS, writes John Kavanagh.

The call has come from Dave Hickman, the new chairman of the society's Independent Computer Contractors Specialist Group, in a tribute to founder chairman Mike Cullen, who stood down last year after leading the group since its formation in the late 1980s.

"These days, due to the high-profile efforts of Mike Cullen and others, the BCS takes very few new steps without considering the impact on contractors," Hickman writes in the group's latest newsletter.

In recent years, contractors have consistently held between three and five of the 18 elected seats on the BCS governing council. And the specialist group has grown to more than 650 members, including many from outside the BCS.

Its influence has included proposing a BCS Professional Experience Record scheme - a formal way of recording and accrediting contractors' experience, to help them in their careers.

The group has also taken a lead in putting the contractors' point of view to the Inland Revenue over the IR35 tax laws. As part of this, Cullen put together a widely applauded alternative approach. But the Revenue's stance eventually caused him to move to the Irish Republic as part of a growing exodus of contractors.

The group has developed a standard yet flexible contract for use by employers, agencies and contractors, plus a code of practice for contractors, and it campaigns against age discrimination.

Despite the group's progress on behalf of contractors, Hickman says, "There is still much that needs to be done to make contracting professionals as high-profile in the commercial world as they should be. If we don't do this, nobody will."

Hickman urges members to put forward ideas via icc@ bcs.org.uk. This is also the contact point for people interested in joining the group, whether they are BCS members or not.

Hickman says, "Let's build the group, let's build the society, and, most importantly, let's build the profession."

The Independent Computer Contractors Specialist Group's annual general meeting iwil be held in Tenby on Sunday 27 May, at the Fourcroft Hotel. Hotel details are at www.walledtowns.com/4croft

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