[holding answer 26 October 2006]: The Department is working closely with the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) to drive up skills by implementing the Government's Skills Strategy. The Learning and Skills Council (a DfES non-departmental public body) is responsible for planning and funding initiatives to retrain low skilled workers.
As part of its Skills Strategy, the Government are providing funding for basic skills provision and first full Level 2 qualifications (equivalent to 5 GCSEs A-C). Employers can access this support for their low skilled workers via Train to Gain, a new service run by the Learning and Skills Council, designed to help businesses get the training they need to succeed and delivered at a time and place that suits their business.
Furthermore, in the North West and West Midlands, subsidised level 3 qualifications (equivalent to two A levels) are also being offered in this flexible way through Train to Gain and in London a third trial offering subsidised training to achieve a Level 3 qualification to women at a disadvantage is in place in response to the Women and Work Commission's recommendations of earlier this year.