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Lib Dems chat up the workers

Employees should be given the right to time off work to improve their skills, the Liberal Democrats said this week. Phil Willis, education spokesman, told the party's annual conference in Brighton that the Lib Dems would leave "no worker behind" as it improved adult education.

A 10-strong "business-led" commission will examine how to extend employee rights while minimising the costs to business, he said. The commission will look at how much time off workers should have. It will also consider whether firms should be able to claim back course costs through the national insurance system.

Mr Willis described the Government's skills strategy, launched in July, as "more confusing than the new directory enquiries".

"After six years of a Labour government, FE remains the Cinderella service that it was under the Tories," he said.

Mr Willis said urgent reform is needed to tackle technical and craft skills shortages and to help the "seven million adults who are functionally illiterate and innumerate".

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