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Published on 19 October 2010 12:00 AM

Employment and Learning Minister, Sir Reg Empey, has encouraged learners to get online and get more out of their lives.

Welcoming Get Online Week, which runs from 18-24 October, the Minister is urging people of all ages to sign up for the Department for Employment and Learning’s free Essential Skills classes and benefit from the many opportunities which the internet offers.

With over 10 million adults in the UK still not using computers and the internet, Get online week aims to give everyone, particularly older people and those on low incomes, the chance to get online and experience the benefits, opportunities and savings that computers can bring to our everyday lives. Events are being organised by a range of organisations including the Post Office and the BBC, which will encourage people to get started with computers.

Commenting on the campaign, the Minister said: “Interaction with computers and technology play an increasingly significant role in all our lives, whether professionally or socially. In today’s employment market, very few jobs remain untouched by technology. The response to my Department’s free Essential Skills ICT training programme has been impressive, with over 4,000 learners signing up for classes since it was first introduced in August 2009. I am sure the Get online campaign will inspire and help even more people to get online.”

It is estimated that more than half of all leisure travel is now booked on line and 90% of all new jobs now require basic internet skills. Whether you want to keep in touch with family and friends, improve your job prospects, research your family tree, compare prices or fill in forms, you could save time, money and hassle by doing it all on the internet.

Elizabeth Cranney from Newry, winner of the Essential Skills 2010 Award for ICT, is someone who has been helped to get to grips with computers. Elizabeth overcame her initial fear of going back to learning and, without any previous computer skills, went on to achieve an Essential Skills Level 1 ICT qualification at Southern Regional College. Elizabeth now plans to use her ICT skills at every opportunity – not only in her social and family life, but also in her hairdressing salon, where she plans to computerise some of her business records.

Elizabeth said: “This was a most joyful experience and the wealth of knowledge and skills I have gained is incredible – I feel so liberated and confident in using ICT.”

If you would like to sign up for free Essential Skills classes in ICT (or literacy or numeracy) why not contact your local college or visit
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For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575