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'Get On' gets Jamie's backing

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who picked 15 jobless young people and offered them the chance of a career in his restaurant, has lent his support to the Government's basic skills programme.

Mr Oliver, who owns the new "Fifteen" restaurant in London, has urged people with problems learning English and maths to enrol on the free courses being offered by the Government.

"To be honest, when I was young I was more likely to be poring over a chopping board than a novel, and it's just the same with the trainees I've taken on at 'Fifteen.'

"But just as I pulled my own socks up and sorted out my difficulties with reading and writing, I try to encourage them to really focus on improving their skills.

"It's never too late to go back to the books and hone your academic side - whether you are 15 or 55, or even 85.

"It will make you more confident and capable of improving your job prospects, whether you want to be a chef, a carpenter, a DJ, or Bob the Builder.

"The secret of cooking genius food might not change, but your reading, writing and maths skills can."

The Government's adult basic skills campaign "Get On" provides free courses around the country. It aims to raise skill levels in 1.5 million adults by 2004.

According to the Adult Basic Skills strategy unit, one in five people is stumped when working out how many people a recipe serves - a particular problem during holidays when cooking for large numbers.

Shopping during the sales can prove traumatic for the one in ten of the population who has difficulty handling bills and loose change.

Cooking a turkey for 18 minutes per pound, with an extra 30-minute blast at the beginning and the end, across three different heat settings, is a hard task for the 11 million adults in England who have problems with numeracy.

One in eight people admits that a lack of confidence about writing is the biggest single factor in not sending cards during the festive period.

"Get On" can be contacted on 0800 100 900.

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