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150 employers sign skills pledge for 1.7m workers - 18-06-2007
Education and Skills Secretary Alan Johnson has congratulated the first 150 employers to sign up to a public pledge to train their staff ensuring they have the skills needed to compete in the global workplace.

By making the Skills Pledge, employers commit to support all their employees to develop basic literacy and numeracy skills and work towards a full level 2 qualification equivalent to five GCSEs A* to C.

In addition Mr Johnson announced the chair of the new UK Commission for Employment and Skills a powerful new employer-lead voice at the heart of the skills and employment agenda; and unveiled four New National Skills Academies.

Mr Johnson said:

"Skills are vitally important for individuals, their future employability and for the success of businesses throughout the UK.

"That is why I am so pleased to see so many companies making the Skills Pledge. I hope others will follow their lead, helping the UK to meet the challenges set out in Lord Leitch's Review of Skills.

"We have made record investments in education and training over the past ten years, and we are reaping the benefits with dramatic improvements in attainment. But there are many people who have left school without qualifications and have been in the workplace many years without acquiring basic skills. As the demand for unskilled jobs continues to decline at a significant rate it is essential that government and employers do all we can to ensure those people are receive the skills training they will need to be able to compete for jobs in the future

"The UK Commission for Employment and Skills will be key in driving forward the skills agenda and I am delighted that Sir Michael Rake will be the first chair of this new organisation."

The Commission for Employment and Skills will bring an additional employer-led focus to the employment and skills system. It will be at the heart of how to raise the UK's skills base, improve productivity and competitiveness, and increase employment.

Mr Johnson also announced the selection of four further National Skills Academies. These are in retail; sport and active leisure; glass manufacturing, coatings, print and building products; fashion textiles and jewellery sector.

The Education Secretary said:

"The National Skills Academies are another key feature of our commitment to raising productivity and giving employers a real stake in skills training. They offer employers, in return for their investment, the opportunity to exercise direct influence over both content and delivery of skills training in their sector. I would like to be the first to congratulate the latest four successful applicants."

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