§ Margaret Moran
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action she is taking to increase investment in basic skills among small firms. 
§ Nigel Griffiths
The Government are committed to raising the level of adult literacy and numeracy in the work force and has identified this as a priority area. This will help small businesses. The Government's 'Skills for Life' strategy willprovide free, high quality, training and advice on basic skills for all small employers;train workplace basic skills brokers who will put businesses in touch with local basic skills training providers. 447 brokers have so far been trained;recruit employer champions, all with a proven basic skills track record in their sector, to help fellow businesses.
The Government are also helping small firms with:the Union Learning Fund, which has enabled union learning representatives to promote basic skills training within the workplace;Learndirect, the online learning and information service, which offers free courses to learners on the foundations of reading, writing and numbers;the six employer training pilots announced in the budget, which will test out a range of approaches to increasing training levels and enable employees to attain basic and level 2 skills.