The Thames Valley is famous for high-tech companies that hoover up skilled workers. But, after the big players have taken on the best recruits, many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are left to fend for themselves.
That is why Thames Valley University's future focus project is such a good idea. The university is piloting the availability of Internet-based training packages in a wide range of IT skills and offers technical support services across the Web.
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The aim is to offer "anytime anywhere" training on a "just-in-time" basis via the Internet. The service has been designed to take into account the needs of those working in SMEs who cannot take time off to attend courses.
Training packages have been made modular to offer elements of training in as little as 30-minute and one-hour sessions, which can be accessed in work breaks, evenings and weekends.
The project was conceived after market research into the needs of local SMEs. Resources came from the Department for Education, the Government Office for the South East and the local training and enterprise council.
The university won the support of Barclays Bank and a partnership was established with training company KnowledgePool. Other training partners include seven local further education colleges, and two local authorities.
The web site currently lists about 200 courses, but this should rise to 2,000 over the coming two years.