Poor literacy and numeracy costing economy £10bn a year

One
in five adults do not have the literacy or numeracy skills of most children
starting secondary school, according to a new report by the CBI and the TUC .

The
report, Brushing up the basics, claims seven million adults have basic skills
difficulties – costing the UK economy about £10bn each year.

However,
the report notes, there is a growing movement to tackle the problem.

Brushing
up the basics highlights the role that employers and unions can play in
identifying employees and union members who have literacy and numeracy
problems, and encouraging them to seek help.

The
report suggests employers can assist by providing sign-posting, counselling and
training other staff as basic skills mentors, while union learning reps can
help colleagues overcome anxieties, and work with employers to develop ways of
helping improve basic skills.

CBI
director-general Digby Jones said: "Some seven million adults in England –
that’s one in five – can’t find the page reference for plumbers in the Yellow
Pages alphabetical index. That is a national disgrace. We need to tackle this as
a matter of priority. I hope this guide motivates more adults to learn and more
employers to train by demonstrating the benefits of improving low skills. We
need to build on what business is already doing so that we can have a
world-class workforce in every workplace."

TUC
general secretary John Monks said: "It’s vital that unions and employers
put their heads together to find ways of helping unskilled workers improve
their reading and maths. Otherwise, there is a real danger that workers lacking
basic skills will simply be left behind – and that’s not good for them or for
British business."

By Quentin Reade

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