British computer society Record BCS income fuelled by leap in demand for qualifications

Continuing big increases in demand for IT qualifications pushed BCS income to a record £13.3m for the 2002-2003 financial year,...

Continuing big increases in demand for IT qualifications pushed BCS income to a record £13.3m for the 2002-2003 financial year, enabling major investment in services for members and in new products.

The figures emerged from the society's recently published annual report, which showed 15% growth in income from the BCS professional examination, the Information Systems Examinations Board certificates and diplomas, and the European computer driving licence end-user qualification.

Well over 15,000 people a year are now working for IS Examinations Board qualifications in topics ranging from IT service management to security and system development. Extra sittings for the BCS professional examination were introduced after a 30% growth in candidate numbers. And the number of people taking the European computer driving licence is approaching one million in the UK.

This growth enabled further development of BCS web facilities, the introduction of extra qualifications from the IS Examinations Board, the launch of advanced modules in databases and presentation in the European computer driving licence, and investment in a joint venture to offer the computer driving licence in the Far East. More staff were appointed to support these and other initiatives.

All this planned activity brought an expected reduction in surplus, which nonetheless exceeded £1.1m.

BCS treasurer Mike Allen said the strong financial position and operating performance would maintain stability and support planned changes.

The BCS started expanding its web services in 2002-2003.

"A wealth of information and discussion groups are now online," the annual report said. "Research aimed at gathering members' views to respond to government documents or to improve information systems practice is carried out online. Some groups, including the governing council, now hold meetings via the web, enabling busy senior professionals to contribute without having to attend meetings.

"A new chief executive, David Clarke, brought IT marketing, online media and leadership experience from the likes of Compaq and Virgin.net. He campaigned forcefully for organisations to recognise that project success demands professionally qualified people."

The report praised the work of many of the society's 40,000 members. This has led to the formation of new BCS specialist groups and other organisations.

The IT Strategy Forum was set up after BCS meetings with senior civil servants, who wanted a way to gather industry views on key issues.

A professional registration body for people in IT in healthcare was formed by the BCS and two health organisations. IT 4 Communities was formed by the BCS and others to encourage IT staff and employers to volunteer their skills in their local communities.

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