A "HIT Squad" is to visit businesses in Herefordshire and Worcestershire to make sure workers have the right skills for their job.

The Skills Station, a one-stop training advice shop for firms in the two counties, will be starting its new active campaign this week.

A special van will make its way across industrial estates in Stourport, Hartlebury and Leominster armed with information on how firms can develop their workforce skills.

Twenty per cent of job vacancies in England remain unfilled because of a lack of skilled applicants, and employers also say that 11 per cent of employees are not fully proficient at their current roles.

However, research by the Skills Station shows four out of five employers are taking action to address this problem.

"Industry losses, through lack of basic skills, are as high as £10bn annually," said Corinne Edwards, Skills Station manager.

"Through visits from the Hit Squad, we hope that we can build awareness of what the Skills Station has to offer local businesses, and that the training requirements of even more businesses can be met."

The Skills Station, which was launched in June 2003, is funded by the local Learning and Skills Council and Advantage West Midlands.

To date, 447 employers have benefited directly from training and a further 1,180 referrals have been made to local learning providers for future training and business support.

The Herefordshire and Worcestershire initiative has even attracted national attention, with up to a further 10 Skills Station-type projects planned around the country.

Free of charge and with no obligation, its one-stop service advises employers on training to meet legal requirements, professional development, practical business and technical skills, as well as suggesting courses for young people.

To find out more about the Skills Station, log onto www.skillsstation.co.uk or call 0845 450 6162.