Microsoft UK has announced an ambitious plan, which it says will help 500,000 people back into work by the year 2012.
The announcement comes as unemployment figures approach 2.5 million. Part of the problem, says Microsoft, is that many people lack basic IT skills.
‘One of the scary statistics for the estimated 10 million people in the UK who have no computer skills is that three quarters of all jobs require the use of some sort of computer or digital device even if you’re a fork lift driver or a mechanic,’ said Stephen Uden, head of skills and economic affairs, Microsoft.
Basic skills training
Part of the program will offer training for those who lack basic computing skills, explained Uden: ‘There are a lot of people at the bottom of the pyramid who need basic training on “what is a mouse and what does it do”.’
Microsoft will partner with organisations such as Jobcentre Plus and charities that work with the homeless and disabled. Microsoft will also offer training vouchers for people who want to learn more advanced skills such as Microsoft Office.
In addition, Microsoft UK has teamed up with its UK partners to offer 3,000 apprenticeships over the three-year campaign and claims 700 of these will be in place by 2010.
The first wave of these will focus on jobs around technical support. Those accepted on an apprenticeship scheme will receive four days training per week (funded by the government) but will work one day a week with their employer. Apprenticeships will last six months.
‘Apprentices are employed from the start – these are real jobs,’ says Uden.
Microsoft’s initiative is supported by the Work Foundation, all three main political parties and spearheaded by Lord Digby Jones.
Speaking at the launch, Lord Digby Jones said: ‘There are thousands of people who do not have the appropriate skills that businesses need in today’s IT led economy. A significant part of this campaign will focus on making ‘Skills for Business’ training vouchers available to people who want to give themselves an extra chance.’
You can find out more about the program by visiting Microsoft’s Britain Works website or call the Britain Works Helpline on 0800 111 4341.
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