UK workforce still lacking basic skills, says survey

Four out of 10 employers are experiencing literacy and numeracy problems among staff.

According to a survey carried out by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI)’s employers’ organisation and education and training providers Nord Anglia, 40% of employers have problems with employee literacy and numeracy. The retail sector fares worst in both areas, with 69% of employers worried about reading and writing, and 56% about basic mathematics.

The manufacturing sector has also reported problems with both literacy and numeracy. IT was another area of concern across all sectors, with 57% of bosses concerned about basic skills.

Nord Anglia chief executive Andrew Fitzmaurice said: “This shows that the wake-up call we had from the Leitch review is as relevant as ever. Basic skills such as reading, writing and doing simple maths remain a real concern for employers.”

These findings follow the announcement last week that the government’s literacy and training initiatives are a waste of time and money. According to Professor Anna Vignoles of the Centre for Economics of Education, “The array of low-level qualifications available to adults has not boosted productivity and earnings. Gains from workplace courses are particularly small. Adult basic skills training might increase equality of opportunity, but unfortunately it won’t boost economic competitiveness.”

Britain is in the bottom half of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s international basic skills league tables.

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