Demand for qualifications boosts society's revenue

Huge growth in demand for independent IT qualifications boosted BCS income by 27% to more than £9m in the financial year to 30...

Huge growth in demand for independent IT qualifications boosted BCS income by 27% to more than £9m in the financial year to 30 April. The results put the BCS in a strong position to support the big changes and Web development now well underway, writes John Kavanagh.

The number of people taking BCS IS Examinations Board qualifications has risen by 40%, according to the society's annual report. About 1,000 people are now taking these qualifications every month, in topics ranging from project management to systems analysis and software testing.

There was a 250% increase in the number of candidates for the European computer driving licence end-user qualification, taking the total in the UK to more than 200,000 in the first three years and beating the initial targets out of sight.

The BCS professional examination also saw healthy growth, with a 15% increase in income.

With BCS costs increasing at a slower rate than that of income - including £363,000 spent on the Web project - a surplus for the year of £991,000 was added to the society's reserves, taking the total to more than £4.2m.

BCS treasurer Mike Allen says £500,000 will be spent in the current financial year on further development of Web services, not least to support the new BCS structure due to take effect after the annual general meeting on 25 October. A key aim is to use the Web and new forums to involve both more members and non-members in BCS activities.

BCS president Alastair Macdonald says the market slump of recent months - and with it the big dip in demand for staff - has underlined the need for a strong professional body.

"There has never been a greater need for a body which can give individuals access to unbiased information and opinion, offer continuing professional development opportunities that help ensure employability as the world changes, and support and guide commerce and government to maximise the contribution of information systems to productivity and development," he says.

These comments are confirmed by a 130% increase in hits on the BCS home page since it launched its redeveloped Web site in June and started shouting about the big structural changes now being implemented.

Membership, which for many years was static at about 33,000, has grown steadily in recent times and now tops 38,000. In addition, the society has dealings with hundreds of thousands more people each year through the IS Examinations Board qualifications, the European computer driving licence and the non-members who sign up to its 50 specialist groups.

Members can hear reports on the year from the president and the treasurer at the annual general meeting on 25 October at 3.30pm at the Church House Conference Centre, Westminster. The AGM lecture will follow at 6pm. The speaker is Doug Engelbart, who developed the mouse and hypertext links. The lecture is free and open to anyone, although places should be booked via [email protected] or 01793-417479. Details can be found at

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