§ Mr. Dhanda
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what action he is taking to increase the level of intermediate skills in the United Kingdom. 
§ Mr. Ivan Lewis
The Secretary of State's responsibilities for skills are limited to England Responsibility for the rest of the United Kingdom rests with the devolved Administrations in Scotland and Wales and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
We are taking forward a range of measures designed to raise the levels of intermediate skills. On the 9 July we published our National Skills Strategy. This White Paper sets out how we intend to address the challenge of ensuring that all employers have the right skills to support the success of their business, and individuals have the skills they need to be employable.
The skills strategy builds on our recent proposals to reform vocational routes for young people. It includes a new entitlement to free learning for those adults without a good skills foundation. We will also provide targeted support to meet priorities identified by sectors and regions, with the emphasis on technician and higher craft level skills. We will strengthen modern apprenticeships and lift the age cap, so that adults as well as young people can benefit from a high-quality vocational route to employment and further learning.
From September this year, we are piloting a new learning grant for some adults in further education in 10 pilot areas, and we will provide better advice and guidance on skills, training and qualifications, so that people know what is available, what the benefits are, and where to go. By summer 2004, a full network of Sector Skills Councils will be in place to identify skill needs in their sectors and stimulate action by employers to meet those needs.