I've gone back and looked at outsourced Y2K fixes done for clients, as well as 'rush jobs' done by temp hires, and this is turning into a backdoor manufacturing opportunity like there has never been before. --MW Blair: Will Hire 20,000 to Fight Y2K Reuters 4:00am 30.Mar.98.PST LONDON - Britain will hire 20,000 "bug busters" to tackle the crisis posed by computers not programmed for the millennium date change, Prime Minister Tony Blair said in an article published today. Writing in The Independent, Blair called the so-called millennium computer bug a "potential technical time bomb" that could damage Britain's growth prospects and cause major disruption to essential services. Blair said he would be unveiling measures to deal with the problem during a speech later on Monday. These measures would include 70 million pounds ($117.7 million) already set aside in the government's budget to help small and medium-sized companies fix their computer systems, he said. Grants would be offered to train young people or the unemployed and retired to help companies deal with the millennium bug, Blair said. "If we get the response from business we are looking for, there will be an army of 20,000 'bug busters' fully trained between now and next April," he said. The computer problem known as the millennium bug arises because many computer programs record dates using only the last two digits of the year. Such programs could treat the year 2000 as the year 1900, causing errors or system crashes that could affect everything from cash dispensing machines to telephone systems on January 1, 2000. "At home, if we want to remain strong and competitive into the next millennium, we have to deal with this problem now," Blair wrote. "There is a risk that our growth prospects will be damaged as companies divert resources to cope with computer failures. Some might even go bust because they can't fix them." Blair said he was increasing the budget for Action 2,000 - a campaign to raise awareness of the millennium bug problem in the private sector - from 1 million pounds to 17 million pounds. Awareness in the sector was now nearly 100 percent, "but 25 percent of companies haven't started taking action yet and they need to do it now," Blair said. He estimated the cost of dealing with the computer problem across the British public sector at three billion pounds, but said money was being set aside in existing budgets to cover this. "Within the public sector, the Health Service and local government have a special responsibility," Blair wrote. "Without careful preparation, there could be major disruption to essential services such as benefit payments or even to emergency services such as hospitals, the fire and the police." The prime minister said his government was putting 10 million pounds into a new World Bank Trust Fund to provide experts on millennium bug-busting training for developing nations and expressed the hope that other major industrialized and European nations would follow suit.
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