The public will be urged to drink up the latest work and learning opportunities in 10,000 bar 'cyber kiosks'. Chris Johnston reports
JOB-HUNTERS will be able to search for work while having a pint in the pub under plans to install 10,000 touch-screen "cyber kiosks".
Job vacancies and University for Industry courses will be placed on the Internet and displayed in the kiosks by the new Learning and Work Bank.
Education Secretary David Blunkett, speaking at the launch of the bank, said it would bring this information together for the first time.
"All the Employment Service's vacancies will be visible on the Internet, alongside the learning opportunities that will help people to get, and keep, their jobs," he told a Harvard Business School Club meeting in London. "This will enable unemployed men and women to find a job wherever they are."
An agreement with the digital television channel BBC Know-ledge would also improve public access to the Employment Service.
All Jobcentres will be linked to the Internet by the end of January and Mr Blunkett called on the service's 30,000 staff to embrace new technology.
A recent survey found that 84 per cent of firms were satisfied with the Employment Service's operations which Mr Blunkett attributed partly to flexible employment policies such as the New Deal. "This is the ES of the future, a service working in partnership with the private sector... to learn from and adopt the best of high technology within the UK and across the world."
A total of pound;5 million will be provided to increase the number of New Deal personal adviser managers.
Meanwhile, FE colleges will get cheaper Internet access from April under a new BT tariff. The Public Institutions Internet Caller plan will give colleges, public libraries, Citizens Advice Bureaux and information and communications technology learning centres, unlimited daytime access for pound;1,200 a year on a high-speed ISDN phone lines.
It is thought the new rate will halve the cost of Internet access. Other telecommunications companies are also planning special tariffs for certain public institutions.
OFTEL, the telecommunications watchdog, welcomed BT's proposal but said that it may not be suited to institutions that need even faster access than can be provided by ISDN lines.
Many colleges are likely to fall into this category and OFTEL expects BT to make proposals about such broadband access soon.
Prime Minister Tony Blair last week announced the first seven ICT learning centres, which will trial innovative approaches to learning and will give adults in disadvantaged communities access to computers and the Internet. There will eventually be more than 1,000 of the centres.
One of the seven pioneer centres will be set up in the Mansfield Unemployed Workers' Centre in the East Midlands. Another will be a mobile learning centre that will tour the West Midlands with a funfair and visit some of the most deprived communities in England. Robert Wilkinson's Big Top Learning Gateway is also set to become a University for Industry learning centre for the fairground workers and their families.
webwise. OFTEL consultation document on BT's Public Institutions Internet Caller Service: www.oftel.gov.uksuperhwycpi1199.htm