Ministers have extended schemes introduced by the Conservatives to give basic training to the long-term unemployed.
Education minister Kim Howells said pilot schemes run by 57 of the 79 training and enterprise councils showed basic training and education could help people back into work.
Basic training has now been incorporated in the national Training for Work programme, for people jobless for more than six months.
Dr Howells said: "We now have convincing evidence from pilot programmes that a package of flexible assistance, tailored to meet individual needs, from literacy and numeracy and the use of information technology to boosting confidence and motivation, can begin to break the cycle of unemployment and scheme-hopping.
"These pilots have produced many heart-warming stories of young and mature people alike overcoming the worst imaginable personal problems - broken homes, severe learning difficulties, protracted periods out of work and brushes with the law - to transform their personal lives and job prospects."