The country’s first scheme to help factory workers learn IT and other skills at their place of work has been launched at Pittards leather factory in Yeovil.

In British business, most IT training is aimed at middle management and factory workers do not generally have the opportunity to gain computer skills in their normal working life.

Now a dedicated IT learning room has been set up in the centre of a major factory floor. The scheme is a partnership between the TUC, TGWU, KFAT, Pittards leather manufacturer and a further education college and has received funding from the TUC Union Learning Fund.

The scheme is to give an opportunity to factory workers to learn a variety of IT skills at various levels. Basic skills support and more advanced IT courses will also be available.

The Learning Centre at Pittards, based inYeovil in Somerset, has been set up with ten computers. The initial courses will be held during working hours. While basic IT skills form the mainstay of the scheme, people will be able to take qualifications such as CLAIT and ECDL. Courses for people on nightshift will also be provided so no-one will be excluded..

Terry Meakin, district secretary for KFAT, said: ‘The Learning Centre Project in Pittards demonstrates what companies and trade unions can do in partnership and we are confident that the project will be a success.’

Reg Hankey, managing director of Pittards glove leather division in Yeovil, said: ‘We have been delighted to be able to work with the unions to get this project up and running. So far the reaction to having a learning centre right here in the factory has been extremely positive and we understand other companies are now looking at the project.’

Picture caption:

The first computer learning course at Pittards leather factory in Yeovil