Government to subsidise regional skills training

The Government is to set up 18 technology institutes across England in a bid to increase the level of IT skills in the regions.

The Government is to set up 18 technology institutes across England in a bid to increase the level of IT skills in the regions.

Paul Donovan and Arlene Martin

Some £25m has been set aside to create the institutes that will teach 10,000 people each year.

The centres are to be a partnership between universities, colleges and businesses. The first five will involve companies such as BAe and Proctor & Gamble in the North East, and Hewlett-Packard in Bristol. Other centres will be situated in Warwick, Manchester and Sheffield.

A further £30m is to be distributed to initiatives in the regions enabling as many people as possible to get access to affordable broadband services. The Government aims to create the most competitive broadband services market among the G7 major economies by 2005 with widespread connections to schools, libraries and higher education institutions. An online broadband stakeholder group will be appointed to advise.

The Computer Software and Services Association welcomed the announcement. Director general John Higgins, said, "Broadband is pivotal to the development of the knowledge economy. Without its aggressive deployment throughout the UK, the Government's targets for e-government, e-business and for creating a fully inclusive information society will remain nothing more than aspirational pipedreams."

He added: "We are pleased that the Government recognises this fact and would welcome the opportunity to work with the Government on the UK online broadband stakeholder group." A spokesperson from e-skills NTO, a non-profit organisation working with employers to increase UK IT competence, said: "We support any initiative that is going to help develop a world-class ICT workforce in the UK".

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