Cash to encourage women staff

Trade and industry secretary, Patricia Hewitt, is offering IT organisations a chance to share a £1m fund to make workplaces more...

Trade and industry secretary, Patricia Hewitt, is offering IT organisations a chance to share a £1m fund to make workplaces more attractive to female workers.

Speaking at the Department of Trade & Industry's Women in IT conference Hewitt said that IT companies need help to reorganise their working hours so that they could improve the representation of women workers in the IT industry.

"The current situation means women are missing out on opportunities to earn the higher wages available in the IT sector. It's also bad for business and bad for the economy," she said.

The cash comes from the DTI's three-year, £7m programme to address the skill
needs of high-tech industries.

IT companies will be invited to bid for up to £55,000 in consultancy fees to help them to develop policies to attract, retain and develop women in the workplace.

Funding is also available to encourage people from ethnic minority communities, disabled people and older workers into IT.

Applications from small businesses are being particularly encouraged. Stephen Alambritis from the Federation of Small Businesses urged companies to take advantage of the scheme. "In the IT sector it is not uncommon to work all hours and under enormous pressure. Staff are often reluctant to ask for more flexibility so it works well for the company to get independent advice from consultants."

The deadline for applications is 8 March.

Further information
DTI work-life balance: www.dti.gov.uk/work-lifebalance

Read more on IT for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)

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