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Yorkshire schools in pound;34m upgrade

Thousands of South Yorkshire learners will be helped to earn formal IT qualifications under a major new pound;34 million e-learning scheme.

RM recently won the contract to deliver the South Yorkshire eLearning Programme, which is funded by the European Union's Objective 1 scheme and the Learning and Skills Council, after being appointed preferred bidder in March.

The programme is the largest of its kind in Europe and will help the region take a lead in developing e-learning resources and online learning as well as stimulate training.

"This is a significant and exciting project that will help lay the foundations for the future of the South Yorkshire economy by developing new skills in our students, small businesses and in the wider community," said project director Christine Lewis.

RM will provide e-learning content, training, services and managed ICT infrastructure to school and adult learners across South Yorkshire as well as a learning environment that will connect all secondary schools, some special and primary schools, further education colleges, libraries and community access areas including 370 small firms.

Tim Pearson, CEO of RM, said that as well as the infrastructure, software and support, the four-year contract required the company to ensure that some 18,000 learners in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield earned recognised IT qualifications.

Sylvia Yates, director of Objective 1, said the e-learning programme was part of a pound;260 million investment in training and skills in South Yorkshire that should have a significant impact on future educational attainment and economic prosperity. "A skilled pool of ICT-literate people will exert a powerful attraction to companies seeking to re-locate," she said.

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