New on-line training project for business signs up 250 firms
An innovative project giving small businesses a chance to train staff over the Internet has already signed up 250 Cornish firms after being approved for Objective One funding.
And the organisers of the project – called Let’s Do IT! – believe the scheme will set new standards for rest of the country.
Project manager Peter Stephens said: “Lets Do IT! is a pioneer – not only in Cornwall but nationally. It is breaking down the barriers that have held small businesses back in the past. Objective One is helping us set a new standard in online training that we expect others will emulate.”
The project is a pilot scheme that is initially targeting firms in the food & drink and leisure & tourism industries – important local business sectors that have traditionally found it difficult to provide the time and resources for training staff.
Now, the one-year pilot scheme – which will cost £350,000 in total and brings together many agencies involved in economic regeneration in Cornwall – has been approved for £30,000 in funding from the European Social Fund through Objective One.
The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Learning Partnership has developed the project and most of the funding will be coming from the South West of England Regional Development Agency - which has already contributed £250,000. Partners in Let’s Do IT! include Cornwall College, Cornwall Enterprise, Penwith College, PROSPER, St Austell College and Truro College.
The Learning Partnership’s director, Dr Malcolm Wright, said: “The aim is to address a critically important issue in the economy of Cornwall by enabling small and medium sized businesses to get involved in training in computer and Internet usage in the workplace."
Dr Wright, who is also a member of the Objective One programme’s Learning and Skills Task Force, added: “Cornwall depends on its small businesses for both wealth creation and jobs, and the food & drink and leisure & tourism industries are crucial to our economy.”
Peter Stephens said: “Information and Communication Technology skills are central to competitiveness and small businesses tend to under-invest in training – something that maintains perceptions of Cornwall being on the periphery, both in geographical terms and in terms of being connected with modern good practice."
Mr Stephens pointed out: “Most of our training is entirely free of charge and has been designed especially for Cornish businesses.”
The Let’s Do IT! project has provided 100 computers free of charge to enable small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to link to the internet. Already 250 companies have registered on Freephone 0800 072 1755 and are benefiting from access to a dedicated website www.lets-do-it.org.uk that provides training on e-commerce, all the major software programs such as Microsoft and Sage, and customer care.
The training is being provided in ‘bite-size chunks’ so SMEs can do the training “any time, any place and any pace”. Over 100 companies have been registered for courses in colleges throughout Cornwall and a further 200 have accessed training on CD ROMs or online. All SMEs registered can get free helpdesk assistance on any computer problems and the website also has links to business support and other services.
For information on Let's Do IT! please call freephone 0800 072 1755.
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD