Big growth in demand for IT qualifications has helped boost BCS income by 17% in its last financial year and enabled it to invest in a new initiative to put the Web at the heart of all its services and processes, writes John Kavanagh.
Income from qualifications and career development initiatives overtook subscription income - which itself grew 5%, as membership rose to record levels - for the first time, reaching nearly £2.8m.
The financial year ending 30 April saw the establishment by the BCS Information Systems Examinations Board of new qualifications in software testing, e-commerce, management and data protection, plus diplomas combining selections of new and existing certificates.
The testing certificate attracted 200 candidates in its first six months and 400 in the second six months. Elsewhere, demand for the IT service management foundation certificate almost doubled to 2,700 candidates in one year.
The total review of the BCS Professional Examination, which contributes to the society's professional membership grades, has brought a 30% increase in demand in its first year. The long established Professional Development Scheme, a formal method of planning, monitoring and recording individual employees' careers, has held its own, and there has been continued demand from across the world for the Industry Structure Model, which defines IT roles and specifies education, training, experience and tasks at different levels in each one.
But the biggest growth has come in the European Computer Driving Licence, an end-user scheme introduced in the UK in May 1998 to train and qualify people in tasks such as word processing, spreadsheets, databases, graphics and using networks.
The first year target of 10,000 was beaten in nine months, and the number of people taking or having completed courses at 950 approved training testing centres now tops 86,000.
"The £280,000 income in the Computer Driving Licence launch year has expanded rapidly and increased to £965,000 in the last financial year," says BCS treasurer Mike Allen in his annual report, just published. "This is enabling us to undertake significant ongoing investment to develop the supporting infrastructure."
That investment will be £50,000 this year.
Membership subscriptions grew to £2.3m, and faster than the 3.5% increase in subscription rates.
This reflected the society's growing membership, which since September last year has been firmly established well above 37,000 for the first time. The latest total is 37,735.
Total income rose 17% to £7.1m, and the operating surplus was up 34% at £599,000.
"It is clear that the society is realising the benefit of earlier investments which, in turn, are providing sources of finance for new activities," Allen says.
One of these activities - with a "significant funding requirement", Allen says - is a new Web initiative.
The society, one of the first professional bodies to get on the Web in the early 1990s, is investing £250,000 of its surplus in the initiative this year.
It expects to have new equipment and software ready to launch the first services next spring.
The aim is to offer everything from facilities for joining and upgrading membership online - these are already available through the existing Web site - to involving more members more fully in BCS activities such as commenting on responses to government proposals, and virtual meetings of committees.