30/10/2003

15m adults lack basic GCSE numeracy skills: survey

More than 15 million adults in the UK have such poor numeracy skills that they would not be able to gain even the lowest grades at GCSE, according to a government report published today.

The study also found that those that have numeracy skills below the standard expected of 9 to 11-year-olds fell slightly from 7 million in 1997 to 6.8 million adults.

However, the survey showed that the proportion of adults aged 16-65 that have literacy skills below the equivalent of a D-G grade GCSE has fallen from the 7 million estimated in 1997 to 5.2 million adults now.

Many respondents had a high level of awareness of, and practical skills in ICT applications and terminology, with 50% achieving Level 2 or above in an awareness assessment, and 47% achieving Level 1 or above in a practical skills assessment.

The survey, 'The National Needs and Impact Survey of Literacy, Numeracy and ICT Skills', which offers a definitive national profile of adult literacy and numeracy skills, highlights the need for improvements in adult basic skills training and school standards, particularly in maths.

The government said that the research "underscores the importance of continuing to drive up school standards".

Publishing the survey, Minister for Skills and Vocational Education, Ivan Lewis said: "Our recruitment of 50% more maths teachers in just four years and dedicated literacy and numeracy strategies in primary schools are already delivering significant improvements in maths attainment at secondary level."

In its first two years, the government's 'Skills for Life' programme saw over 1.8 million adults start basic skills courses, and 470,000 have achieved key qualifications to date.

Ministers remain confident of reaching the target of 750,000 adults achieving a basic skills qualification by the end of 2004, rising to more than 1.5 million adults by 2007.

The survey covered 8,730 respondents aged 16-65 years old.

(gmcg)

Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

28 November 2003
UK employers to benefit from £46m skills boost
UK employers are set to receive a £46 million skills boost, thanks to extra investment in Skills for Business – a UK-wide network of employer-led Sector Skills Councils.
02 March 2012
Poor Numeracy Reaches Record High
The number of adults with poor numeracy skills has reached 17 million in England alone – very nearly half the working-age population. The figure has increased by nearly two million over the last eight years (from 47% to 49%) and is a disturbing indictment of national attitudes to numeracy, according to new charity National Numeracy.
22 March 2005
Government launches plan to boost workers' skills
The government has announced plans to tackle skills shortages among UK workers and help British companies compete with China, India and other emerging economies. Announcing the launch of the government's new Skills White Paper, Education Secretary Ruth Kelly pledged to put "an end to dead-end jobs".
24 January 2006
Adult literacy scheme results "challenging," say PAC
The UK Government's multi-billion literacy and numeracy programmes for adults have achieved little and a House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has described future targets as "challenging.
26 September 2003
'Unsatisfactory teaching' mars adult skills provision: Ofsted
The government's adult basic skills strategy is being hampered by "poor quality provision and unsatisfactory teaching", a new report from the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) and the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) finds today.