Apple is working with the Yorkshire Forward regional development agency to introduce a unique opportunity for Mac users in the county to acquire the skills they need to benefit from the burgeoning tech industry based there.

With areas of Yorkshire North of Sheffield regarded as a mini- 'Silicon Valley', Apple and the agency yesterday announced a new training initiative.

This means Yorkshire and Humber will be the first region in the UK to offer Apple Certified Technical Coordinator (ACTC) training in Mac OS X. This will be available through public-sector-funded training providers, including the West Yorkshire New Technology Institute and Doncaster College.

The region's 'digital industries cluster' is worth an annual £2.2 billion, according to Yorkshire Forward. It is expected to grow over 50 per cent by 2012, but skilled staff is needed there. The agency is investing £2.8 million across three years in the region to help redress the skills gap.

It also means "schools and colleges that often rely on Apple technology will gain qualified technicians to run their networks," Apple said.

Apple Europe's creative market director Mark Rogers said: "Yorkshire Forward has taken a strategic, forward-looking approach to addressing the skill needs across the region, acting proactively in developing partnerships with major industry vendors. Apple is pleased to be assisting in putting the skills in place that underpin the region's digital and creative industries and to ensure they thrive."

Yorkshire Forward's head of tech infrastructure Jim Farmery said: "Apple's presence in the region is a clear indication of their recognition of our strengths in creative and new-media industries but it also gives firms a convenient and affordable chance to gain new skills and expertise in these important applications."