A year of unprecedented membership growth and record income is enabling the BCS to take the lead in establishing IT as a recognised profession, according to senior officials in the society's annual report for the year ending 30 April.
The first year of the new membership structure saw the number of BCS members grow by 30% to 47,763, following many years of little net growth. Since April the number has continued to rise to more than 50,000.
The 14,164 increase was well above the target of 10,000. Almost 10,770 of the new members have joined in the professional grades. Membership turnover was less than 2%, the lowest for several years.
Revenue grew by 10% to £16.9m. The net surplus was up 48% at £1.1m, and that was after £550,000 was spent on a new IT system.
Demand for career development support rose sharply. The BCS Information Systems Examinations Board, which offers qualifications in areas ranging from IT service management to system testing, reported 37% growth.
Demand increased by nearly 50% for career development as well as staff planning products and services, such as Careerbuilder. Demand also increased for individuals and for the Corporate Professional Programme for employers. Both use the national Skills Framework for the Information Age.
Meanwhile, more than 1.3 million people in the UK alone have taken, or are studying for, the European computer driving licence user skills qualification. In addition, more than 120,000 scouts achieved the IT badge, which is sponsored by the BCS, in the first 18 months of the scheme.
BCS president David Morriss, writing in the annual report, summed up the difference the new membership structure has made. IT specialists can now get earlier and faster recognition of their experience and qualifications with BCS member and fellow titles, and go on to get chartered IT professional status.
"When the plan was set we had an environment in common with other professional bodies, where membership was static," Morriss wrote. "Members surveyed demanded greater value for their membership, citing better career support, improved external representation and enhanced opportunities for professional development. Externally, the industry was being challenged, especially by government, to improve the quality of its performance.
"We set out to make the BCS relevant, visible and influential and to establish effective engagement with our own, and wider, professional communities. The success of our new membership structure and the willingness of many industry organisations to work with us on the professionalism in IT programme are just two indicators of the progress that has been made."
BCS chief executive David Clarke said the Professionalism in IT programme, launched in May, aimed to build professionalism to the level at which it is seen to exist in other professional fields.
"The increasing interest in professionalism provides the best opportunity since computing began to establish a fully recognised IT profession," he said.