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EDS picks jobs plum

In a deal worth over £500 million, the Department for Education and Employment has extended a contract with its technology partner, EDS to modernise the Government's employment service.

The project, which was announced by EDS and Tessa Jowell, the minister for employment, late last year will see internet-based technology being used to provide job seekers with round the clock access to every vacancy (currently over 300,00) held in the employment service's job bank. It will also allow employers throughout the UK to advertise their openings on the service's website.

According to Alan Bell, commercial director for the EDS Welfare to Work unit, the modernisation project involves the installation of 9,000 touch-screen kiosks in Jobcentres around the country. These will replace card displays, he explains, and will allow job seekers to respond to advertisements and even submit their CVs on-line. "Users will still be able to approach Jobcentre consultants, either telephonically or in person, for further information and assistance," adds Bell, "while a national vacancy taking and handling service will be provided to employers through a single national telephone number."

Over 30,000 Jobcentre PCs will also be upgraded during the initiative, making the completed project the biggest managed network of touch screens, and the second largest rollout of Windows NT PCs in the world, according to EDS.

Minister for employment, Tessa Jowell believes the modernisation project is evidence that the Government is serious about streamlining its services and improving efficiency for customers: "This is a clear demonstration that the promises made in the modernising government agenda for 24 hour electronic access to public services, can and will be delivered."


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