BCS changes to face new IT challenges

The British Computer Society has announced a range of measures to boost its profile and "enhance its value" to members.

The British Computer Society has announced a range of measures to boost its profile and "enhance its value" to members.

The group is opening an Academy of Computing, expanding internationally, starting a new networking group, launching a new website and job site, and tweaking its qualifications. It is also adding "Chartered Institute for IT" to its name.

BCS chief executive David Clarke said, "Our goal is to transform the value we offer our members and other key communities. Over the next 12 months, we will introduce a wide range of new qualifications, products and services designed to do this."

The organisation hopes the changes will help it to address the six main issues it believes face the IT industry. These include the digital divide, information vulnerability, poor information management, IT project failures, IT skills shortages and a lack of clear career paths for IT professionals.

It aims to extend its international reach, and is translating its qualifications into German and Spanish to meet demand from IT staff in Europe. The BCS' next target market is the US, it said.

The organisation is sponsoring the itSMF conference in the US. International director Michiel van der Voort said, "We are looking to establish similar working relationships with organisations that can help us deliver BCS services and qualifications to US based IT professionals."

Its newest qualifications focus on green IT, with a foundation certificate in green IT and a new practitioner certificate for data centre operators.

Clarke said the ability to process, share and manage information will determine the success of society and its ability to face up to future challenges.

"We need a high-performing IT education system, IT literate policies, a respected and well-supported IT profession and a population with the skills and the opportunities to be active and informed citizens," he said.

The BCS is well-positioned to make a contribution to achieving these objectives, he said.

"For example, by updating assessments for achieving chartered IT professional (CITP) status, by enhancing the relationship between education practice and research and by showing leadership on key issues such as we have done in the green IT space," he said.

The updated CITP assessment process responds to industry and government demands for deeper expertise and relevance from the IT profession, said Clarke.

"An important feature of the latest version of chartered status, which will be released shortly, is the validation of competence," he said.

Successful applicants will be issued with a "certificate of current competence" which will be valid for five years, after which they will be required to undertake revalidation to acquire a new certificate.

"The approach will ensure that senior practitioners not only possess broad technical knowledge, but also that they can demonstrate business experience, commercial accountability and competence in their individual IT specialisms," said Clarke.

"Successful candidates will be added to a public register of chartered IT professionals, which will be a beneficial resource for clients and employers to find leading IT practitioners," he said.

IT challenges facing society

• The digital divide

• Information vulnerability

• Poor information management

• IT project failures

• IT skills shortages

• Lack of clear career paths for IT professionals

BCS initiatives

• A more rigorous approach for assessing chartered status for IT professionals.

• Set up an academy of computing to create an integrated approach to advancing IT.

• A strategy to extend BCS qualifications to the Asia Pacific region, Germany and Spain.

• New services for members and BCS groups, including a new member networking facility.

• A new BCS website with increased functionality.

• A revised job site, BCSrecruit.com, and other career development tools.

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