Organisations are encouraging their staff to join the knowledge economy by helping them buy home computers.
Staff at ANZ bank have just bought 2000 discounted Dell computers in an arrangement between the two firms. Dell communications director Rob Small says the deal was the the biggest of its kind done by the company in New Zealand.
Small would not say how much discount was given, but Dell supplies staff with hardware for around 15% off the retail price. "A lot of Dell staff are given notebooks. We encourage all our staff to have access to Dell hardware at home and for their kids," Small says.
"It helps raise the literacy of computer users. For a lot of companies where PC literacy is low, such deals help increase staff IT training as by osmosis, they increase their literacy."
ANZ chief operating officer Colin MacDonald says the company is offering computers at $6.25 per week for three years under a leasing arrangement.
After three years, the staff will be able to buy the PCs. MacDonald says the bank is becoming more involved in e-commerce, technology is rapidly changing and the bank felt it was important staff gained the necessary skills, though he stresses that the PCs are for employees' own use, including for children's homework.
Compaq New Zealand offers its 380 staff a 30% discount on computers, allowing two purchases a year, but the hardware cannot be sold on to third parties inside 12 months.
Christine Fitchew of Candle IT & T recruitment says such schemes are increasingly common in IT companies as a means of retaining staff.
Candle employees in the New Year will be able to join a Contractors Club, which uses the buying power of its members to secure discounts for PCs and associated equipment, rental cars and holidays.
"It's a way of saying 'thank you' and a payback," Fitchew says.
IDG, publisher of Computerworld, uses its buying power to secure discounts on computers and also offers interest-free loans to staff for hardware purchases.
Clear Communications has no formal programme but offers staff free access to virus protection software for their home PCs.