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New IT skills programme to rollout to communities

16 May 2005 Media Statement

New IT skills programme to rollout to communities

State Services Minister Trevor Mallard today announced a new ‘train the trainers’ IT (information technology) skills programme that will be rolled out to community learning centres in disadvantaged communities around New Zealand over the next two years.

The new programme is a first for New Zealand and will be run by the New Zealand Unlimited Potential Learning Foundation. It will be funded through a grant of $350,000 from Microsoft, and $100,000 in support from the government, as part of the Digital Strategy announced today (see www.beehive.govt.nz/cunliffe).

The programme will run in up to 125 Community-based Technology and Learning Centres which will also be able to access free software to an estimated total value of over $2 million. The State Services Commission's E-government Unit has agreed to act as interim lead agency for overseeing the 'train the trainers' programme until it is transferred to another government agency.

“Digital literacy is an essential life skill, just like being able to read and write. Without this skill, there is a risk that people will be cut off from job opportunities and unable to take part in the full life of the community,” Trevor Mallard said.

"Each trainer who attends the Unlimited Potential Learning Foundation course will be required to train another trainer in their community and will commit to providing training to a specified number of people. It is estimated more than 4,100 people who currently have limited, or no, IT skills will benefit from this initiative within the next two years.

"This programme is a great example of the level of collaboration possible between private businesses and government. The government believes this is a real win-win for the country in helping all New Zealanders get online and build confidence in their use of technology.

"This initiative also epitomises the direction, concept and spirit of the Digital Strategy. Communities, government and private businesses all have a role to play in ensuring all New Zealanders have the capability and confidence to make the most of the digital opportunities open to them," Trevor Mallard said.

Two pilot centres, in South Dunedin and Helensville have recently trialled Unlimited Potential curriculum. Following the success of this trial, Whitireia Polytechnic has been selected to deliver the “train the trainers” course using the Unlimited Potential curriculum to other participants from economically disadvantaged communities around New Zealand.

For more information on this initiative, visit www.microsoft.co.nz/unlimitedpotential

ENDS

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