New institutes to help 'tackle' IT skills shortages

New measures aimed at tackling skills shortages in IT experienced by small businesses were announced last week by Margaret Hodge the Minister for Lifelong Learning and Higher Education.

Eighteen regional groups of higher education institutions, further education colleges, and private sector partners, were given the go-ahead to become New Technology Institutes (NTIs) with the brief to offer high quality training in advanced technology skills both to businesses and students.

Announcing the locations of the NTIs, which are being funded by £25m announced last year, Margaret Hodge said:

“NTIs offer a new and exciting opportunity for further and higher education and industry to work together to deliver the latest information technology training in an accessible and responsive way for up to 10,000 people by 2005. This is essential for both individuals and business, and critical to the success of local and regional economies. NTIs will work with all the key regional agencies and networks to achieve their aim of helping to close the information technology skills gap.”

The NTIs include:

- West Yorkshire NTI which will provide computing skills - networking, telecommunications, hardware repair and maintenance across West Yorkshire;

- Lancashire and Cumbria NTI which will focus on the increasing need for information technology in local engineering, aerospace and automotive industries;

- Ipswich NTI which will provide training in multi-media, digital arts and accountancy in Suffolk.

Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Sir Howard Newby, said:

"I am pleased that we are supporting the establishment of 18 NTIs across England, not only because they will provide significant new facilities and opportunities to raise skills levels in the regions, but also because NTIs demonstrate the importance of a partnership approach.

“We have worked closely with the Learning and Skills Council to deliver this initiative, and universities, colleges and employers have worked collaboratively to develop each successful NTI proposal."

John Harwood, Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Council, said:

“We very much welcome the creation of these new Institutes. They will receive significant improvements in local and regional ICT abilities. Learners will have access to top class provision and SMEs will be able to gain the technical skills to compete on national and international stages..."

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