The British Computer Society (BCS) has pledged to broaden its appeal and implement far-reaching changes, after admitting that it has failed properly to represent IT professionals.
Membership criteria are being revamped so that from next May the BCS can target a much larger proportion of the UK's 1.5 million IT professionals. The organisation currently has just 40,000 members.
Under its current membership terms the BCS rejects many applicants because they do not qualify, according to chief executive David Clarke.
"The criteria for membership have been built around our engineering background, but growth in IT has been in other areas," he explained.
"So we did not target a lot of people who would not have met our criteria. We have to allow them to become members."
The BCS will keep the gold standard and chartered member status, but will add new membership levels making another 750,000 IT professionals eligible to join.
Clarke, who has 25 years' experience in the IT industry, admitted that he did not qualify for BCS membership. "I never saw a point to being a member. Being able to attract professionals in the industry is key," he said.
Clarke wants to make the BCS so compelling that membership is a prerequisite on job adverts.
But Colin Beveridge, an interim IT director and BCS member, was sceptical. "By trying to be all things to all men the BCS's impact is very hit and miss. It needs much more clarity of vision, identity and focus," he said.
"There's no compelling reason to join other than because of a general interest in computing, and there's no evidence of thought leadership for the profession.
"There is no representative body for IT in this country. The industry is 50 to 60 years old and shows no sign of moving beyond the hobbyist approach."
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