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The London Development Agency and the European Social Fund have promised to cough up an undisclosed amount of funding to give free IT certification training to all London businesses with fewer than 250 employees.

A representative of London Development Agency (LDA) - the Mayor's agency for business and jobs - told The Register that she did not think she was allowed to say exactly how much money was being spent on the London SME training scheme. However she confirmed it forms part of a series of joint LDA and European Social Fund projects which are in total worth £9m. (Update: we now have the budget for the scheme £165k, over three years.)

The bottom line is that any small business in the capital will have the opportunity to train its staff in IT skills, including "widely recognised qualifications in IT" such as Microsoft Certified Professional and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.
The scheme, which runs for 18 months, will provide training that can be can be accessed at any of the 17 high street shops of the Internet Exchange or at three Next Life outlets across London.

Michael Ward, chief executive of LDA, said the body is committed to supporting SMEs, "who play a critical role in London's economy".

The initiative aims to offer flexible learning through a blend of classroom, online and mentored training that can fit into working schedules. Once registered at a centre, the courses can be undertaken within any Internet Exchange or Next Life store, from the employers office, or from the trainee's home.

LDA promised that there will be online tutors available 24 hours a day, and in-store trainers available at least six days a week.

James Golfar, training director for Internet Exchange, added: "Market conditions are tough at the moment, and this gives companies a chance to boost their effectiveness."

No, we don't have email or web site contact to give you: try Internet Exchange - 0800 9175425.
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