Cheap computers to link unemployed with jobs

3rd March 2000 at 00:00
A pound;15 MILLION scheme to give cheap computers to lifelong learners and the unemployed will be launched next month.

The Government hopes that the Computers Within Reach pilot scheme will help as many as 100,000 individuals and families to buy a reconditioned PC, or to lease one for about pound;5 a month.

The project is intended to enhance job-seekers' information technology skills, improving their employment prospects and helping them complete training courses. It is also hoped to reduce under-achievement caused by lack of access to computers and allow parents to help their children with school homework.

Last year's IT for All survey revealed that for 41 per cent of respondents cost was the main obstacle to using computers.

The Department for Education and Employment, which will subsidise the cost of reconditioning and distributing the equipment, is considering bids from interested consortia involving computer suppliers, charities, PC-recycling firms and community groups.

Michael Wills, the learning and technology minister, recently told Parliament that all proposals meeting the terms of the initiative will be accepted. He said a list of areas that the projects will cover will be published later this spring.

The thee-year pilot scheme is intended to become self-sustaining. Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, proposed the idea in last year's Budget.

As well as reducing the amount of still usable computer equipment being discarded, the scheme may also give New Deal participants work experience in community computer-recycling schemes.

Women are being urged to upgrade their computer skills to improve their job prospects and maximise their earning power whether or not they are working.

Margaret Jay, minister for women, issued the call following research that found the average woman earns pound;250,000 less than a man during her working life.

"If there is one thing women can do to improve their lifetime incomes it is to get computer skilled," she told an Institute for Public Policy Research seminar last week.

"Skills mean marketability and marketability means higher salaries."

The IT for All survey found that only 51 per cent of female respondents had used a computer, compared with 65 per cent of males. Men were also more likely to have used the Internet.

To receive details about the Computers within Reach projects write to:

Computers within Reach, NGFL

Division, DFEE, Caxton House, Tothill Street, London SW1

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now