Next time you're at the supermarket you might want to pick up some IT tuition along with your weekly shopping.
Budding techies will be offered an estimated 15,000 hours of IT training every week following a partnership between Sainsbury's and the Learning and Skills Council.
The £15m venture will offer IT qualifications to shoppers by creating three new centres to take business-relevant courses to learners rather than waiting for learners to come to them.
More than 200 courses will be offered during supermarket opening hours at the in-store IT learning centres.
The tuition can be taken at the student's own pace and all courses lead to industry recognised qualifications in a variety of subjects from word processing to web design and digital photography.
The concept has already been tested at Sainsbury's Calcot store in Reading where 3,000 people graduated over 22 months.
A centre in Oldbury in the West Midlands will open on 5 December, followed by branches in Camden and Woolwich in March 2003.
One student, self-employed roofer Colin Sims, has exhausted the range of courses in less than two years and has progressed from being unable to use computers to graduating with the European Computer Driving Licence for just £25.
"Because I run my own business, I can't do a course at a fixed time," he explained. "So I would never have got as far as I have.
"Now I can sit down and do a presentation on my laptop. It's wonderful; there are endless opportunities."
Ivan Lewis, Minister for Adult Learning and Skills, stressed the importance of innovation in developing new ways to give everyone the chance to acquire IT skills.
"More and more people are now online. It is only in making sure this happens that we can continue to provide a world-class education and a modern skilled workforce that will contribute to a thriving economy," he said.
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