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Companies urged to join in basic skills training


Education and Skills Secretary Estelle Morris today launched the latest stage in the ‘Get On’ campaign, part of the Government’s £1.5 billion Skills for Life strategy to improve the nation’s reading, writing and maths skills. An employer toolkit – a free hints, tips and video pack - was unveiled to help businesses improve the basic skill levels of their workforces.

Ms Morris said: "Up to 3.5 million workers struggle with reading, writing and everyday maths which can hamper their progress at work and which costs UK businesses nearly £5 billion a year and the UK economy as a whole around £10 billion every year. Poor basic skills also contribute to a lack of confidence and difficulties progressing up the career ladder. People who have reading, writing and maths difficulties are estimated to earn £50,000 less over a working life than people with a better command of literacy and numeracy. They are also less likely to pick up new skills and be able to cope with the rapid pace of change in the modern world of work. Many UK companies offer no basic skills training at all and two thirds say this is because they have never really considered the issue."

The BBC reports that doubt has recently been cast on some of the statistics being used on adult literacy.

The free ‘Get On’ Employer Toolkit includes:

· a video about literacy and numeracy in the workplace;
· a presentation for board members and other senior management to raise awareness of the issue and get staff on board;
· tools for identifying literacy and numeracy needs within the organisation;
· recommendations on developing the best model of support for the organisation: from a variety of courses or using a specialist provider, to integrating basic skills support into existing company training and open learning via learning centres;
· tools for evaluating progress;
· resources for use within the workplace; and
· information about who to contact for help, advice, funding and support.

‘Get On’ campaign: recommendations for starting a basic skills programme in your organisation
1. Assess the basic skills need within your organisation. A range of methods for identifying literacy and numeracy needs are contained within the ‘Get On’ Employer Toolkit, including Company Skills Checklists and Job or Task Analysis. Call 080 800 763 763 for a free ‘Get On’ Employer Toolkit.
2. Ensure management support. Consistent senior backing is crucial for the success of a basic skills programme. Management need to consider and agree on issues of programme structure, work release and accreditation.
3. Employee support is also critical and workers may be apprehensive and sceptical at first. Consider inviting all staff to an open meeting so no one feels singled out; involve workplace representatives and follow-up all initial approaches so employees can see the organisation is committed to developing a learning culture.
4. Develop the best model of training support for your organisation. Options range from intensive training courses and job coaching to integrated training or open learning. Full recommendations are included in the ‘Get On’ Employer Toolkit.
5. Make the most of the ‘Brokerage Scheme’ which aims to assist employers to provide basic skills support programmes for their workers through a network of trained Brokers and Approved Providers. The Broker, Approved Provider and employer meet to identify needs and plan how training can be customised to the workplace. Contact your local Learning & Skills Council or Small Business Service for further details.
6. Union-led programmes are often seen by employees as safe, credible and relevant. If your company is unionised, working with the unions and Union Learning Fund will provide you with excellent support. For more information go to
7. Network – talk to other companies and find out what worked for them, how they got started, mistakes to avoid and the benefits of the programme. The CBI or TUC may be able to signpost you towards other companies in your region or sector.
8. The new Sector Skills Councils will have a crucial role to play in supporting the drive for training and development for workers in their sector. Each will provide skills analyses to determine where training need is greatest and what provision is best suited to address this need. The Sector Skill Development Agency will oversee and support their work. For more information go to
9. Evaluate your programme to ensure it is having the desired effect and continues to support the needs of your business and your employees.
10. For a free copy of “A Guide to Funding Adult Literacy and Numeracy Learning Programmes 2001 –2002” call DfES Publications on 0845 60 222 60.


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