New president pledges to champion 26% of the population still without PC access

The divide between people with access to computers and those who risk being excluded from digital services is a target for work...

The divide between people with access to computers and those who risk being excluded from digital services is a target for work by new BCS president David Morriss during his first year in office.

Pointing to a BCS survey carried out in June, which showed that 26% of people had no access to a PC at all, Morriss said, "It is clear there is a danger of a portion of the population being excluded from this information age.

"It is essential that accessibility is taken seriously by the industry. Much has been done in this area but much more remains to be done. Companies, industry bodies and charities are working together more and more to make a difference and the BCS is proud to be one of them."

He singled out the IT4Communities initiative, which the BCS is involved in with five other organisations, including Computer Weekly. In two years it has recruited 2,000 volunteers and has worked on IT for hundreds of charities.

Morriss is also active in charitable body the Worshipful Company of Information Tech-nologists and the AbilityNet charity, which advises disabled people, employers and carers on specialist IT.

Morriss is taking over as BCS president after a landmark year of change to the membership grading structure. This has brought in 6,500 new members in six months, pushing the total to well over 40,000. The changes mean IT specialists can get recognition in the form of a BCS professional membership grade much earlier in their careers.

"The more IT professionals we have in membership, the better the job we can do on representation," he said.

"We believe IT to be the profession of the 21st century. For this to be generally accepted we have to raise standards and performance as an industry. This is the role of a professional society."

The BCS had also taken a "great step forward" as a learned society during the presidency of Wendy Hall, professor of computer science at Southampton University, Morriss said.

Highlights included the Grand Challenges in Computing conference, which discussed areas for collaborative research; a joint study with the Royal Academy of Engineering into the development of complex systems; and the introduction of Thought Leadership debates, which brought together academic, industry and government figures to discuss IT issues.

Experts have also become involved in other ways, Morriss said. "Forums and strategic panels have given the society access to people who have a lot to contribute on developing issues and forming policies, but whose time is limited."

The BCS' duty to society is being fulfilled in several ways. More than 80,000 boys and girls are participating in the Scouts IT badge, which is sponsored by the BCS, and the total is expected to top 100,000 by the end of the year.

The European Computer Driving Licence IT qualification has enrolled its millionth candidate in the UK and work on entry-level IT skills means that the BCS is moving even farther into helping society get to grips with IT.

Morriss paid tribute to the active involvement of thousands of members in different ways. "We are first and foremost a membership body and everything we do depends on our volunteers.

"Because of the hard work of so many people, the BCS finds itself in great shape. But we are not complacent: we can safely say this is the end of the beginning - but there is still a great deal to be done."

David Morriss worked in IT for London Transport and then IBM where he was appointed to the UK board. He is a non-executive director of REX Software, a senior official in the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists and a trustee of AbilityNet

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