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Employers urged to do more for basic skills


The CBI and the TUC have released a new report, "Brushing up the basics", on the basic skills challenge facing the UK. It states that one in five adults do not have the literacy or numeracy skills of most children starting secondary school.

The basic skills difficulties of seven million adults are said to cost the UK economy around £10 billion each year. The report suggests employers can assist by providing sign-posting, counselling and training other staff as basic skills mentors, while union learning reps can help colleagues overcome anxieties, and work with employers to develop ways of helping improve basic skills.

CBI Director-General Digby Jones said: "Some seven million adults in England - that's one in five- can't find the page reference for plumbers in the Yellow Pages alphabetical index. That is a national disgrace. We need to tackle this, as a matter of priority. I hope this guide motivates more adults to learn and more employers to train by demonstrating the benefits of improving low skills. We need to build on what business is already doing so that we can have a world-class workforce in every workplace."

TUC General Secretary John Monks said: "It's vital that unions and employers put their heads together to find ways of helping unskilled workers improve their reading and their maths. Otherwise there is a real danger that workers lacking basic skills will simply be left behind - and that's not good for them or for British business."

The report also includes case-studies of successful basic skills initiatives. It is available from the CBI.

How much can employers do to improve the basic skills of staff, and what are the major obstacles? Post your comments below.


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