Logica offers free computer course to lure new recruits

Logica, the UK information technology company, will today announce its latest innovation to plug the yawning skills gap in the computer industry - an all-fees paid university course in IT.

In a joint venture with the University of East London in Stratford, Logica is starting a four-week intensive course to train people who have no IT experience in basic IBM mainframe computing skills.

Logica will pay all course fees, amounting to tens of thousands of pounds in the initial phase, and guarantees to give all successful students a job at Logica as a technical consultant at its Brentwood office starting in the new year and paying probably around pounds 17,000 basic.

The initial course has already selected 16 people, including a paleontologist, an ex-bank manager and a former secretary at the company, through a two- day assessment, but Logica plans to extend the scheme.

A spokesman for the company, which currently recruits around 500 people a year, said the course could feed in around 100 extra employees a year.

Logica, which had a profits scare in June when it warned that it could not recruit IT people fast enough, has since launched a number of unusual schemes to attract new people.

The company pays any existing staff member pounds 2,000 cash for introducing a new employee into the company and recently opened a drop-in centre for people interested in being trained in computer skills.

Logica is not the only IT company feeling the pressure of a shortage of computer programmers. Around 50,000 new people are needed in the industry by the year 2000, to meet demand driven by the millennium problem, monetary union and booming growth of IT in business.

CRT, Britain's largest IT staff recruiter, was overwhelmed with telephone calls after it announced a scheme in November to create 2,000 jobs in five years, inviting anyone to apply and promising applicants who pass a selection test and a three-month paid training period a full time job paying up to pounds 40,000 a year.

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