Over-50s to get free training in IT

Workers over the age of 50 in Greater London are to be offered free IT training under a scheme designed to help small and...

Workers over the age of 50 in Greater London are to be offered free IT training under a scheme designed to help small and medium-sized firms improve their skills base.

The Mature People into IT programme aims to recruit 150 over-50s, offering a range of practical training in subjects such as web design, multimedia, the A-plus computer maintenance qualification and the European computer driving licence.

The programme is designed to fill the skills gaps in older workers who may have missed out on IT at school or university. It recognises that as the population ages, firms will increasingly need to rely on the skills of older workers.

Legislation to be introduced next year will place obligations on employers not to discriminate against workers because of their age, alongside existing sex and disability discrimination laws.

"If you are over 50 and have not done IT, you are at risk. People need to work later in life. There are shortages in skills and there are social and personal benefits in working later, not necessarily full-time. To do that, IT skills are essential," said John O'Sullivan, project director at E-Skills UK.

The London project, dubbed Mapit Extra, aims to encourage participation from the leisure and hospitality sectors by offering training in food hygiene and health and safety alongside IT skills. However, workers in other sectors are also encouraged to apply. The scheme is likely to be expanded to cover other parts of the country later this year.

Candidates will be able to train during the day, in the evenings or at weekends at Thames Valley University, City Lit, Merton College or Lambeth College.

Wrinklies Direct, a specialist recruitment agency and lobby group for older workers, will also be running a series of seminars for small firms on age awareness.

Mapit said it has a high success rate at encouraging older workers to keep their skills updated. Some 96% of those who trained on the last Mapit project said they were keen to continue adding to their skills.

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