Television companies should devote prime viewing slots to help the one in five adults who cannot read a telephone directory, a government task force will say later this month.
Led by Sir Claus Moser, chair of the Basic Skills Agency, the task force on adult skills will recommend a high-profile media campaign and big cash incentives for employers to release low-achieving staff for lessons in literacy and numeracy.
The Government's concern about the 8 million people in the UK with severe basic skills problems was highlighted by Baroness Blackstone at a conference in Birmingham this week.
"We have inherited a tragic legacy of illiteracy and innumeracy. One in five adults was unable to find their way through a phone book for a plumber," she said at the launch of a new Government initiative to rescue failing colleges.
Stringent measures favoured by Tony Blair to impose literacy and numeracy exams on adult under-achievers were thrown out by the task force following bitter rows and splits.
The final report of the task force will be published at the end of the month. Full report: FE Focus, 31.