INEXPENSIVE English language packages should be offered to employees, encouraging them to improve their skills, local bosses have told the Government. The proposal, put to the Education and Manpower Branch by local employers, comes amid rising concern about declining language standards among Hong Kong workers. The Education Commission Sixth Report has highlighted the problem, suggesting intensive vocational language courses for school-leavers. Hong Kong Employers' Federation executive director May Chow Mee-yee said members supported the idea, but insisted the Government should play its part in conducting the classes. 'We are happy to co-operate with the Government, but employers cannot do it on their own. It is essential for the Government to allocate resources to help us,' Ms Chow said. The Government could offer self-teaching packages or audio-visual aids at affordable prices to encourage people to learn at home, she said. But Education Commission member and legislator Cheung Man-kwong said taxpayers' money should not be used to subsidise employers' staff training costs. 'Firms can earn more money if they get high-quality staff. I think they should pay the Government if they want it to run the courses,' said Mr Cheung. Chinese University Dean of Arts Professor Ho Hsiu-hwang warned that Hong Kong workers could lose their competitive edge if action was delayed further. 'Language problems have haunted the college. Students do not sense the need to improve,' he said.