From BCS President John Higgins

We are pleased that our membership numbers have held up well through the pandemic. Our three-year minimum target now is for a 23 per cent increase to 70,000 members. The plan to achieve this has four pillars. We would be very happy to work with our sister organisations in IFIP on any or all of these. 

There is increasing nervousness about some aspects of digital technologies in people’s lives; social media silos and misinformation, algorithms making life changing decisions and the threat to jobs from automation to name but three. Bodies like ours are ideally placed to make the case that society must demand the highest standards of professionalism from its digital practitioners – it’s a cornerstone in the battle to rebuild public trust in digital.  

The UK Government recognises this and continues to ask for BCS’s help to address the problem. Three recent separate national strategies, for AI, data and innovation each refer to the importance of rebuilding public trust, if our economy and society is to reap the rewards on offer.

So, driving up member numbers, in part by raising the importance of professionalism is the first and overarching element of our strategy. It is supported by the three other pillars: Inspiration: working to improve computing education; progression: supporting career progression through continuous professional development and influence: have our expert opinions listened to on the big digital issues of the day.

I’ve devoted considerable personal energy to this last pillar – growing our influence. We have agreed the four themes that now guide our external engagement – promoting professionalism and ethics; increasing diversity and inclusion; closing the digital divide (largely through education and skills) and harnessing technology to reach Net Zero. 

Many members have told me they are proud to be part of an organisation that adds expert value to the public debate. It’s pleasing to hear our voice heard more and see us making a bigger impact. Today our focus is at a national level yet many of the issues are bigger than that. We think the time is right for IFIP to raise its own profile on these issues and are ready to work with other members to make that possible.