West Midlands' clothing, footwear and textilerelated businesses can now benefit from nine days' worth of free IT consultancy, thanks to a new programme that will ensure they have the appropriate technologies in place to remain competitive.

Offered by Skillfast-UK, the Sector Skills Council for clothing, footwear and textile-related businesses, the "Prof-IT" programme will enable employers to choose a consultant to visit their company to review what technologies and skills they have in place.

Following this, up to nine days' consultancy - valued up to £3,600, or £400 per day - will be available.

During the consultancy period, suggestions will be made on the types of technologies and related training the company would benefit from, to help increase its productivity.

This could include the introduction of stock control systems to ensure that cashflow is available, CAD/CAM systems to assist in production and the development of e-commerce and sales functions.

Business development manager for Skillfast-UK, Fred Kirkland, said: "We are encouraging businesses in the West Midlands to be openminded and explore the types of modern technologies that are on the market."

Laptop computers and digital cameras will be provided on a loan basis to companies where the technology is identified as being required.

* Details, call Fred Kirkland on 07793 578014 or visit: