IT skills give hope to the homeless

A London charity is offering IT training to help the homeless get off the streets, writes Daniel Thomas

A London charity is offering IT training to help the homeless get off the streets, writes Daniel Thomas

A division of homelessness charity Centrepoint has teamed up with an IT training provider to provide free skills for homeless people, writes Daniel Thomas.

Streets Ahead is part of Centrepoint's employment, training and education services. It is a partner agency in Off The Streets and Into Work, a London-wide initiative to help homeless people find jobs and become independent.

The charity has teamed up with IT training firm Interquad to provide free ITcourses for the homeless, which, it hopes, will get them back into work. The programme could also help to solve the UK's current IT skills shortage.

The courses are designed to help homeless people into an IT-based career. Non-supplier specific training is provided by A+, an independent certification organisation.

Participants are first assessed for competency, then enter an A+ training course at one of three levels.

Level one focuses on PC fundamentals, and teaches essential PC skills. The second addresses software support skills and gives participants the knowledge required to support Dos and Windows.

Finally, level three offers hardware support skills. It teaches the support skills needed for the essentials of installing and troubleshooting PC hardware.

The A+ service technician qualification guarantees that an IT professional has the knowledge, competence and skills to support a spectrum of hardware and software technologies.

The A+ service technician qualification is also a prerequisite for further training, such as the Microsoft Certified Service Engineer and Certified Novell Engineer schemes.

Victor Adebowlae, chief executive of Centrepoint, said, "To rebuild lives, homeless young people need more than a bed. They need skills and a job, to stay off streets."

Ed Arnett, managing director of Interquad, said, "We give people a springboard into a career. It is the first step.

"Demand for staff has never been higher. We aim to let companies meet this, by a different source," he added.


A survey of 170 participants from Streets Ahead who completed the A+ training revealed the following results:

  • 50% found new jobs within six months, but the majority have found some sooner

  • 38% have at least one degree. Several hold masters, postgraduate or professional qualifications

  • 23% are fluent or have a good understanding of another working language

  • 78% are educated to O-level/GCSE standard and 43% have A-levels

  • 50% have over three years' work experience, 90% have six months' work experience

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