The government is offering computer illiterate Brits free IT skills training.

Business Secretary Lord Peter Mandelson unveiled the Online Basics scheme, which will offer free-of-charge short courses covering five modules including typing and mouse skills along with email use and how to surf the web safely.

The courses can be taken from home, providing students have a PC and internet access.

However, those without a computer or an internet connection will be able to take the courses via UK online centres that have been set up in London, Barnsley, Oldham, Gloucester and Devon.

It is hoped the scheme, which is in response to a government review last year that revealed 11.6 million Brits lack basic IT skills, will get a million UK adults online in the next three years.

"Everyone should be a confident user of the internet if they are to participate fully in today's digital society. Being online brings a range of personal benefits, including financial savings, educational attainment, improved salary prospects and independent living for older people," Lord Mandelson said.

"Online basics will mean more people accessing vital IT skills, enhancing their working lives and making digital literacy as important a skill as basic literacy and numeracy," he said.

The announcement comes just a day after the government revealed it hoped to give 270,000 disadvantaged families in the UK a free laptop with broadband access for a year, under its Home Access scheme.

Broadband speed test

See also: More than 50% of Brits are computer illiterate