UCE Birmingham's Technology Innovation Centre (TIC) is to run part-time professional development and postgraduate ICT courses for employees of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) - free of all fees.
A new survey from IT giant Cisco recently found a short-fall of 40,000 IT-personnel trained in the latest technologies can be expected in the UK in the next two years.
Concern for smaller businesses (SMEs) has sharply increased with a further finding that 42 per cent of SMEs felt 'left in the lurch' after purchasing new technology. Insufficient training is a major difficulty.
Under a European-funded scheme, experts at the TIC are able to help employers and employees through courses, which not only have all fees paid, but which could even offer up to £750 worth of IT equipment.
Support costs for travel and childcare are available and flexible methods of study also offered.
As Cisco's lead-academy for over 600 training centres across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the TIC claims its latest professional IT-skills training and degrees offer major advantages over similar UK centres.
Bernadette Wightman of Cisco Systems UK said: "If they don't have the right core skills in place, small businesses can't hope to benefit from the new breed of enabling and empowering technologies."
TIC is not only a major international Cisco training centre, but also one of Micro-soft's top UK professional skills training academies. With just a handful of UK university centres prominent in professional Microsoft education, the IT-giant's latest business courses will be available in the Midlands via TIC.
The next generation of Microsoft's Academic Learning Series uses redesigned textbooks and new instructor resources to which TIC has made a significant development contribution.
On a visit to Birmingham from the USA, Microsoft's learning development manager, Bill Setten said: "TIC has proved over the last three years to be among the UK's leaders in this field and has helped the implementation process. Now it will be in the v anguard of our new approach."
TIC has also become a major training centre for Apple, SUN and Red Hat IT systems.
Student technicians, administrators, engineers and developers are trained through TIC's various programmes for all its IT-academy activities.
Relevant modules are then incorporated into TIC's own affordable professional ITdevelopment courses and related degrees, which help make TIC graduates highly employable.
And while other university faculties have seen a downturn in demand for computer technology courses, staff at the TIC say numbers on its courses are in fact increasing.