A total of 200 employees facing redundancy from Rover, Vauxhall, Dunlop and Goodyear are being retrained to become qualified network installers.
The former car workers are being trained by networking specialist CableNet, as demand for such skills continues to grow.
The initiative, which has received £200,000 in funding from the East of England Development Agency, includes a 16-week day release programme to provide individuals with the knowledge and qualifications to enter the network cabling job market while redundancy notice is being served.
All 200 employees are studying for a BTEC intermediate certificate in telecoms cable installation.
"Although the telecoms sector has suffered from the general economic downturn, there is still an enormous shortage of qualified individuals able to design, install and maintain network infrastructures, and it is predicted that the shortfall will continue to grow," said CableNet's sales and marketing director, Andrew Stevens.
Figures from the European Information Technology Organisation suggest that there will be a 32 per cent shortfall in qualified networking specialists this year in the UK, amounting to 108,000 individuals.
"Within the cable networking industry there have been a few qualifications, but people are now looking to justify the spend on training staff," explained Stevens. "They no longer want people who have been on one-day sales training courses. Anything that says they've been through an externally assessed programme is useful."
More than 80 per cent of the Rover employees have already secured placements in network cabling jobs as a result of the regional regeneration scheme.
Growing demand for networking and internetworking specialists is highlighted by a 12 per cent boom in average salaries in 2001 over the previous year, according to a study of pay data from more than 29,000 IT professionals across the US and Europe by analyst Foote Partners.
President and chief research officer David Foote maintained that the networking salaries represented the highest growth of any IT employment category.
"The last time companies were so confident that any group of IT jobs were that important to merit special treatment to attract top talent was Lotus Notes in the mid-1990s," he said. "Network infrastructure jobs are hotter than ever with all the ebusiness development happening."
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