JOHN DENHAM, the Secretary of State for Skills, is holding a series of meetings with the Confederation of British Industry to encourage employers to train their staff.
He is urging them to sign up to the Skills Pledge, a government initiative under which firms agree to help their staff get qualifications and improve their skills in the workplace through formal training.
The pledge was launched in June this year by Gordon Brown. More than 200 employers, covering almost 1.8 million staff, have signed.
Mr Denham said: "We are reshaping the skills system in England so that it is more responsive to the needs of employers.
"These regional meetings enable ministers from my department to set out how the system is changing and to hear how employers in each region see the skills challenge we face."
Sarah Green, director of CBI North East, said: "We welcome the commitment to work with business on our shared agenda to raise skills. Business is committed to raising employee skill levels. Signing the Skills Pledge shows that businesses, the Government and employees can successfully work together."
By 2022, ministers say, England should have 95 per cent of adults with the basic skills of functional literacy and numeracy, up from 85 per cent and 79 per cent respectively in 2005. More than 90 per cent of adults should have at least one level 2 (GCSE equivalent) qualification and more than 40 per cent should be qualified to at least level 4 (first year of degree equivalent), up from 29 per cent in 2005.