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Last Updated: Monday, 4 September 2006, 09:26 GMT 10:26 UK
UK faces 'looming skill shortage'
Office worker
Literacy and numeracy skills are a problem
Britain faces a skills crisis as employers "refuse" to train their workforce, the UK's main union organisation has said.

More than a third of employers deny workers training, the TUC said, while only 11.5% of those trained receive a nationally recognised qualification.

Workers in the West Midlands have the least training while North East employees have the most.

Government and employers need to invest more in training, the TUC argued.

The TUC's report comes in response to the Treasury's review of skills needs for 2020, commissioned by Chancellor Gordon Brown.

Basic skills

"Employers should stop complaining so much about the skills levels of their staff and spend more time on training them," said Brendan Barber, the TUC's general secretary.

Of the workers Britain will have in 2020, 70% have already completed their mandatory education.

Yet within the current workforce of some 30 million people, six million have serious problems with literacy.

Many more have similar issues with numeracy, the survey reveals.

Addressing the crisis will "not only improve Britain's productivity and competitiveness, but also address issues such as poverty and social mobility", the TUC argues.

Over the next 15 years, it says, about 20 million individuals will need better skills than they have at present, especially if Britain's workers are to compete with Germany and France.

"The 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review should include more state funding for boosting workplace skills for adults," says the report.

The TUC's learning and skills project, unionlearn, aims to increase the number of its union learning representatives to 22,000 by 2010, from the existing 14,000.

The majority of unionlearn's training is for basic literacy and numeracy but the union also conducts vocational training.

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