Last updated: 12.09.14

Govt needs to do more to boost adult numeracy and literacy

The government needs to do more to provide adults with consistent and thorough assessments of numeracy and literacy skills at the earliest possible opportunity if a person is or becomes unemployed, suggests the Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee.According to the panel, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills, and Jobcentre Plus all need to work together to ensure every adult in the UK, especially those out of work, has the skills needed to find a job.The task force has also called on the government to launch a high-profile national campaign focused on improving the “alarmingly low” levels of adult literacy and numeracy in the UK. A recent survey from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revealed that England came 22nd for literacy and 21st for numeracy out of 24 countries.In addition, the BIS Committee have recommended that the government takes a collaborative approach to tackling the skills problem. It wants to see improved funding, as well as better assessment and support for people who currently lack the skills needed to find long-term employment.Despite the government pledging to support an adult wishing to learn English and maths up to GCSE level, awareness of this help is low, according to the panel. Adrian Bailey MP, chairman of the BIS Committee, said being unable to read or write well, or at all, can have a massive impact on a person’s life.These problems can stop a person from finding work, understanding forms and bills or helping their child to successfully complete their education. He said: "There is no silver bullet to tackling the problem of low levels of adult literacy and numeracy but a national campaign will help to get the message out to those who are most in need of support.“By adopting the recommendations of our report, the government can make a real difference to people's lives and our economy's productivity.”These skills can be learned in a variety of settings to accommodate the learning styles of everybody. Whether a person excels in a classroom or by taking an online course, there are many avenues into improved numeracy and literacy.