20,000 trainees tackle timebomb

20,000 trainees tackle timebomb
Political Correspondent and Richard Ball Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced the creation of a 20,000-strong task force of trainees to tackle the Year 2000 crisis. The Government will offer grants of ?1,300 each to train young people, the older unemployed or retired people to help companies deal with the Millennium Bug. It is part of a ?97 million programme to tackle the crisis in Britain revealed to the Tackling the Millennium bug conference, organised by Midland Bank and official campaign body Action 2000. The programme measures include: ?70m to help small/medium sized businesses develop IT skills and fix their systems – including the cash to train the 20,000 experts – a huge funding increase for Action 2000 from ?1m to ?17m, and a ?10m donation to the World Bank to kick-start international efforts to tackle the bug in developing countries. Peter de Jager, internationally renowned year 2000 expert, commented: “I am very impressed with what Tony Blair has said today. He has said more than all other world leaders put together.” Chief executive of independent campaign group Taskforce 2000, Robin Guenier, was more circumspect: “The Prime Minister’s involvement is very welcome. But this rather impressive edifice is built on sand.” Guenier believes it is the large and not the small companies that need the help. Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Malcolm Bruce, who estimates that the real cost of dealing with the problem in the public sector alone could be ?3bn, said: “The government talks a good story on sorting out the Millennium timebomb but when it comes to action it is guilty of serious negligence. Today’s speech by Tony Blair isn’t going to do much to change that.


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