News story

BroadSkill director appointed chairman of MERIT

Learning NewsBray Leino Learning

Steve Burrows, technical director at BroadSkill, the UK's largest supplier of freelance trainers, has been elected as chairman of MERIT, the biggest geographic IT user group in the country. MERIT has an active membership of around 200 Northwest-based organisations and has been in existence for seventeen years.

MERIT - the name comes from Merseyside IT - was established in 1988 to help local businesses share knowledge and provide a louder regional voice when speaking with national organisations. Regular meetings give members the chance to network with like-minded people and share real-life experience with information and communication technology, free of supplier hype. The organisation aims to promote best practice and provide support to member organisations.

MERIT has a full-time chief executive and is currently a key driver in the Greater Merseyside Broadband Project, which is funded by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA). The project aims to radically increase the take up of broadband services and open up opportunities for businesses and community groups across the region. MERIT's work on the project has received plaudits from both the NWDA and the Treasury.

Burrows said: "I am delighted to take on this new role in an organisation whose work I have always valued. My aim will be to improve the services to members still further and to increase membership amongst larger organisations as well as small businesses. I also see no reason why this successful user group format cannot be extended across the North of England and elsewhere."

Burrows will get some time off from his main job to carry out his duties, a tradition of investing in the community which is strongly supported by BroadSkill's Managing Director, Stephen Fletcher, who himself is also a magistrate.

Fletcher said: "I was heavily involved personally with MERIT's foundation and I am pleased we can help again with an initiative which I think brings much value to the northwest. Back in the 1980s the region was seen totally inaccurately as something of a technology backwater and of little interest to the big IT players down south. MERIT has been a major force in changing that view."

Burrow's chairmanship will cover the organisation's 20th anniversary in 2008, a special year for the northwest as Liverpool becomes European City of Culture. A major event to mark the anniversary is planned.