The Government has launched a scheme to retrain around 20,000 of the long-term unemployed in IT skills.
The package, called Ambition IT, was announced by Chancellor Gordon Brown and Tessa Jowell, the employment minister, and is backed by key firms including IBM, Microsoft, ICL, Oracle, BT, Cap Gemini and Consignia.
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The Government aims to spend £50m over three years to provide IT training through its New Deal scheme. It admits that demand for skilled IT technicians is likely to grow 25% during the same period.
At the end of the training, the sponsoring companies will offer trainees up to 5,000 IT technician jobs.
A further 15,000 job seekers will receive basic IT skills training in a bid to improve their future job prospects.
A spokesperson for the Communications Managers' Association welcomed the initiative and said, "This appears to be a very constructive step. It is plain that we still have a great requirement both on the demand and the supply side for skilled people. Anything that provides a bigger skills base is to be welcomed."