HUDDERSFIELD workers are getting a helping hand with "the Three Rs".
The town's Technical College is offering free basic skills training to improve employees' reading, writing and arithmetic.
The move is part of the Government's Don't Get By, Get On campaign, which has committed £1.5bn over three years to provide basic skills training to all employees in the public, private or voluntary sectors.
A survey by the Department for Education and Skills showed that up to 3.5m workers in the UK cannot read, write and speak English at a level needed to work effectively.
A survey in Kirklees found that 8% of people in jobs felt they needed to improve their reading, 13% needed to improve their writing, 17% wanted to improve their spelling and 16% felt they needed to improve their basic maths.
College spokeswoman Donna Gregory said poor skills hit companies' profits and productivity.
She added: "The cost of poor basic skills to a company with 51 to 100 employees could be £86,000 a year.
"The loss to a business with 1,000 staff or more might be as high as £500,000 a year.
"Productivity per hour worked is 20% lower in Britain than in Germany and our poor literacy and numeracy skills account for two- thirds of that shortfall."
Ms Gregory said workers with poor basic skills often had difficulties understanding written instructions, taking accurate phone messages, following or giving accurate verbal instructions or calculating correctly.
Workers with poor basic skills were less likely to take up training opportunities, less likely to seek promotion and more reluctant to attend or contribute to meetings.
In many cases, workmates covered for colleagues with difficulties - making it harder to identify the problem.
Ms Gregory said the college's free training courses aimed to benefit the employees themselves and also help firms to boost productivity and competitiveness, improve customer service, reduce mistakes and accidents and lower absenteeism and staff turnover.
Phone the college on 01484 437072.