The government has promised additional funding for training the UK workers in technical skills to the equivalent of two A-levels.
Education minister Ivan Lewis said, “We want every sector to come forward with proposals that demonstrate the priority of their needs. We will be positive in seeking to support those who do.”
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The programme could be a boost for businesses wanting to hire technical support staff.
The announcement was part of the government’s white paper, Realising Our Potential, which also made computer literacy a “skill for life” with the same status as numeracy and literacy.
Individuals on benefits will be assessed in computer user skills and given government-funded training under the new proposals. In addition, a £30 weekly grant will be available for priority groups.
The measure will partly replace the government's disastrous Individual Learning Accounts, a £273m programme which closed early in November 2001 because of widespread fraud. Poor computer security design at the ILA’s Capita-run website was part of the problem.
The white paper will also make Modern Apprenticeships, including those in ICT, available to those over the age of 25.
The government’s skills initiative is aims to co-ordinate work across the Department of Educations and Skills, the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Work and Pensions and the Treasury.
Unions and business groups will also be involved the “Skills Alliance”.