The British Computer Society was founded in 1957, just a few years after Thomas Watson, President of IBM famously said: ‘I think there is a world market for maybe five computers,’ writes Johanna Hamilton AMBCS. Over 60 years on, BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, is leading the way for IT in society and industry.

A learned society, where members collaborate and share knowledge, experience and aspirations; BCS gained its royal charter in 1984. Today, it has around 70,000 members in 150 countries and influences government policy, promotes globally recognised IT standards and has been pivotal in both IT education and the awarding of professional certifications.

When an IT professional joins the Chartered Institute for IT, they sign up to the BCS code of conduct, promising to uphold the very highest levels of professionalism, maintaining standards in everything they do and working in the best interests of society. BCS membership gives IT professionals access to a huge range of annual events (often local and free), access to mentors and mentees to share knowledge and improve experiences, as well as over 150 specialist groups that cover everything from cyber security to green issues.

Welcoming members

Membership is divided into four grades: student, associate member (AMBCS), professional member (MBCS) and fellow (FBCS) to reflect both expertise and service to the industry.

Organisations can also partner with BCS to gain organisational membership (OM). Head of IT at Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure, Sean Sadler said: ‘Having a BCS partnership really engenders a spirit of continual improvement within my team and a collective will to work towards industry recognised certification, which further enhances IT's value and capability to the business.’

Extending the pledge through organisational membership has helped many companies; not only to retain staff through the benefits of membership and career advancement, but also to create a unified team, working towards a common goal. Creating the best workforce possible is paramount and involves assessing the team at all levels - both today and with an eye on making changes in the future.

Supporting digital transformation

Expansion, retirement, diversification: all can influence the number and type of staff a business needs. None of us can anticipate the future, but keeping all staff current in their learning, developing their strengths and supporting their growth, will all enhance the quality of teams and products.

Furthermore, digital skills are no longer just the remit of ‘techies. Organisations are generating unprecedented amounts of data, through customer relationship management systems, internet of things, locational telemetry, supply chain monitoring and website activity - to name just a few. Every single employee, from human resources to finance and marketing to admin, will need tech skills in order to perform their role. And, more importantly, to support a digital transformation.

While it can be daunting to embark on large scale workforce assessment, BCS has developed the SFIAplus framework for exactly this reason. SFIAplus is the most relevant definition of skills in today's dynamic global IT industry. In a world where new ideas are obsolete almost as soon as they are conceived, the SFIAplus framework helps organisations to look at the underlying skills that make up various job roles and highlights the skills that may need to be enhanced for a successful outcome. It is a comprehensive tiered information system, that allows employers to deconstruct job roles with a common skills language. This can then be used to pinpoint where individuals currently sit within the matrix and what they could achieve next with professional guidance and support.

A fantastic tool for recruitment, it is also widely used by managers across IT to keep skills relevant and to move existing employees sideways and upwards into new roles.

The SFIAplus framework, in association with BCS certification, can help companies build a dynamic, adaptable and self-motivated team that performs for the good of the organisation - with the added benefit of enhancing and fast-tracking IT careers to retain employees.

Developing people

Across all sectors, processes have been examined, streamlined and shortened to increase efficiency and gain a competitive edge. Market forces dictate that we can no longer ‘do what we’ve always done’ but instead need to adapt to survive. While thought leadership can take many companies into a market-leading position, it is the employees who can support change and growth... or choose not to.

Research by CIPD found that overall job satisfaction was felt by around 35% of employees; almost half of those surveyed (49%) thought they were in a role that used their skills and knowledge, but just 12% felt ‘this organisation really inspires the very best in me in the way of job performance’. Although up from just 6% the year before, motivation in the UK workforce remains low.

Across the pond, a Gallup survey recorded that engaged employees numbered 34%, the disengaged 53% and the actively disengaged, 13%. While the actively disengaged is at its lowest figure in 20 years, that is still a huge number of negative and unhappy employees, who could potentially be harmful to their organisation and could jeopardise the continued digital transformation.

BCS can help you retain a focused, engaged workforce, that aspires to get qualified.

Image credit: This is Engineering