Building Society Staff among First to Buy Cut-Price Computers

Article excerpt

Up to 10,000 North-East workers could improve their IT skills on cut-price home computers in a drive launched by cabinet minister David Miliband.

The Cabinet Office Minister urged small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to sign up to the scheme, which he said could save them pounds 1.5m in national insurance (NI) contributions while driving up the region's computing proficiency.

The South Shields MP was at the headquarters of Universal Building Society, which is offering its 125 employees in the region a chance to have a new computer at home ( with support training ( for pounds 11 a month.

The society is one of the first to take up the offer of two other North firms which have joined forces in response to the Government's challenge ( mentioned in Chancellor Gordon Brown's Budget ( to improve employees' computing skills through the Home Computer Initiative (HCI). Accountants RMT and training provider Zodiac are now ready to extend the programme across the region.

Mr Miliband said: "This provides the perfect opportunity for organisations to help improve workforce skills and save money at the same time.

"As technology and IT-based business becomes an ever bigger part of our regional economy, it is vital that the workforce develops the skills which will keep us competitive. …