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Q&A: The £92 computer and the UK IT workforce

IT PRO speaks to Race Online 2012 partner Remploy about its low-cost computing offerings designed to ensure excluded members of society are included in our digital nation.

There's also a laptop offering coming soon, too. We're talking weeks.

The feedback we got was that people are happy pay extra money to have a Windows 7 version, rather than XP, or to have a laptop.

Given the target audience, do you feel the post-sales support is especially important?

Absolutely. Very important. Some support calls we've had are very basic in terms of mouse control and so on. They're support calls you and I take as basics such as not connecting the mouse and leaving the instructions in the box. It's about trying to help users work out why it's not working.

What most people take for granted are things this demographic [need help with] as they've never used a computer before. Some hand holding is required.

What most people take for granted are things this demographic need help with as they've never used a computer before. Some hand holding is required.

What difference will it make to people's lives?

There's the financial gain for the economy. Martha Lane Fox recently said that, for example, this can help people shop around to reduce energy consumption bills. In the current economic climate you can really see the benefits.

Besides the financial gain, for the demographic we're targeting, instead of going down the job centre for job searches, they can look online. They can also take advantage of social networking sites such as Facebook and eBay as well as some of the newer social networks such as Big Wardrobe, which allows swapping of clothes.

Do you think this will have a positive impact on the workforce, too?

Lots of people haven't got skills to maybe look online to apply and search for certain jobs. Suddenly having IT skills opens up a whole new field of opportunities rather than just driving or manual labour.

Given the audience is not already online, will you be promoting this initiative offline too?

Yes. It will be publicised in all UK Online centres. We're also talking to Job Centre Plus about signposting the scheme there. The Post Office will also help with signposting. Hopefully when people go in to collect their pensions or benefits [they will be made aware].

Obviously, we'll also be publicising this to our customers to get donations to help provide stock for the scheme.

We're funded by the Government, so we'll also be talking to them.

For more information about the aims and ambitions of Race Online 2012, check out the video below.

Introduction to Race Online 2012 from MarthaLaneFox.com on Vimeo.

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