New members and exams drive up BCS income in a year of change

The BCS is celebrating a year of solid business growth at a time of major change to its membership structure which has enabled...

The BCS is celebrating a year of solid business growth at a time of major change to its membership structure which has enabled thousands of IT specialists to gain professional status in the past three months.

Income grew 16% to top £15m in the society's last financial year. The surplus of £746,000 was down on the previous year, but the BCS said this was expected and reflected the structural changes, development of new member services and products, and recruitment of extra staff to support the expansion.

"The year was tremendously challenging and rewarding for the society," said BCS chief executive David Clarke. "Following approval of the changes to the membership structure and governance towards the end of 2003, the first half of 2004-2005 has been focused on implementation."

The changes, approved overwhelmingly by members, enable IT specialists to get recognition in the form of a professional title and the letters MBCS or FBCS after their name much earlier in their careers and with much less bureaucracy.

They can then progress to chartered status, including the new title of chartered IT professional.

Clarke said the success of the changes was reflected in the fact that the BCS set a target of 10,000 new members for 2004-2005 and it recruited 3,500 in the first three months. In recent years membership had grown only slowly to about 39,000.

Qualifications and other professional products now account for more than 80% of BCS income. In particular, qualifications from the BCS Information Systems Examinations Board, the BCS professional examination and the European computer driving licence end-user certification have been popular.

Clarke said the last financial year saw substantial investment in new activities. "Fifteen new products were launched and a further 40 are in development," he said. "Our approach to driving improved professionalism in IT, which has evolved over the past 18 months, has proved incredibly successful at opening doors in all sorts of directions.

"Our press profile has never been higher: we currently stand at number 37 in the recognition rating for IT organisations - we were not in the top 250 two years ago - and we are constantly receiving requests from government and industry to participate in a whole variety of IT-related activities.

"We have built an excellent response process to manage these requests, providing the world-class knowledge of our members.

"We have also developed a series of thought leadership debates among key influencers on a series of IT-related topics, which are again leading the thinking in the development of IT policies and directions for the future.

"We have a feeling in the society of making real progress in many areas of our organisation - and we're having some fun doing it."

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