Lack of trained staff hampering efforts to boost numeracy and literacy levels among adults

Efforts to boost numeracy and literacy levels in adults are being hampered by shortages in staff qualified to deliver the skills, the latest Ofsted report has revealed.

The watchdog’s 2008-09 Annual Report found that barriers to better skills provision were varied, but included shortages in staff appropriately trained and qualified in offering ‘skills for life’ courses.

The findings, based on evidence from inspections and regulatory visits carried out between September 2008 and August 2009, also identified a reluctance among employers and work-based learning providers to tackle basic skills issues with employees. “In some cases, it is seen as a personal issue and choice rather than an imperative,” the report stated.

However, the report flagged up the importance of having good levels of literacy and numeracy for those entering the jobs market or seeking to move within it, especially in the current economic climate.

“There is continued resistance from employers, adults and young people to taking up skills for life training,” it said. “Adults in employment require particularly high levels of personal support and encouragement to tackle their basic skills needs effectively.”

Other findings showed that employers are very supportive of the Train to Gain programme, highlighting improvements in work practice and staff retention.

But the report added there was still scope for greater participation from employers in sectors that do not have legislative or industry requirements for training.

Melanie Hunt, learning and skills development director, said: “To respond to a changing and challenging economic environment, it’s vital the skills sector learns from the strengths of successful providers and works with employers and other partners to make their programmes more relevant, more motivating and more productive for learners.”

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