ICL plans to create 4,400 jobs for Net expansion

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ICL, the information technology group owned by Fujitsu of Japan, yesterday unveiled plans to create 4,400 new jobs, including 1,000 in Britain, as part of a pounds 100m expansion into e-business and wireless Internet applications.

The former computer maker turned IT group, in which Fujitsu plans to float off a minority stake next year, also signed a number of Internet co-operation deals with Nokia, the Finnish mobile- phone giant, Kingfisher, the retailer, Lloyd's Register and the Irish government. "We foresee a multi-billion pound business for ICL over the next three years and are expanding to capitalise on our leadership position," said Keith Todd, the chief executive.

ICL expects e-business revenues to double to pounds 160m this year. Demand is booming and should increase further, thanks to digital television, games consoles and the move to put the Internet on mobile phones. The latter application, ICL believes, is set to rocket with up to two-fifths of business to consumer e-commerce transactions outside the US expected to be made on wireless devices.

The UK-based company also plans to retrain 4,000 out of its 22,000-strong global workforce in e-commerce-related skills under a three-year programme. In addition to the UK jobs, ICL will create 1,400 jobs in the Nordic region, 800 elsewhere in northern Europe and 700 in the US.

Around half the new jobs will be for systems engineers and the rest for creative new media designers, project managers, consultants and system integrators. In most of these fields, skilled workers are in short supply.

Patricia Hewitt, the e-commerce minister, welcomed the plan. "The Government is determined to make the UK the best place for the transaction of e- business and ICL is demonstrating it shares this vision," she said.