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Phil ain't arf got a good deal

(Photograph) - "Got a nice pair of courses here darlin'. Yours for Pounds 1."

Actually, the patter from skills minister Phil Hope (right) was a bit more sober than your standard stallholder's chit-chat when he joined market traders this week to promote the Government's basic skills drive. Not wishing to be undersold, he pointed out that the item on offer is, in fact, free.

He was at Church Street Market, off the Edgware Road in west London, to promote the Get On campaign, which was launched in 2001 as part of the Government's Skills for Life Strategy, and invite people with literacy, numeracy and language problems to sign up for a free course.

Stallholders have been giving away plastic bags promoting the initiative, backed by the National Market Traders' Federation.

Mr Hope, whose hobby is juggling, said market traders are an inspiration to people struggling with numeracy. "After all," he said, "how often do you see a till on a stall? The strategy was launched to deal with the estimated 7 million adults who lack basic literacy and numeracy skills. The Department for Education and Skills exceeded its target of 750,000 adults gaining a qualification by 2004. It now aims for 1.5 million by 2007 and 2.25 million by 2010.

Photograph; Dillon Bryden

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