Getting the basics right: The case for action on adult basic skills


Basic skills – including literacy, numeracy, ESOL and digital skills – are key to supporting adults’ life chances. Participation in basic skills learning results in a range of positive personal and social outcomes for adult learners, including improved self-esteem and well-being, as well as supporting learners to access better quality work, including increased job satisfaction, pay and security.

Despite the evidence available on its positive impacts for individuals, society and the economy, there are high levels of basic skills needs in England.

An estimated 9 million working-age adults in England have low basic skills in literacy or numeracy, of which 5 million have low skills in both. At the same time, the adult education budget has been halved since 2011/12 and participation in learning is declining.

The report outlines eight key findings on what works for improving adult basic skills learning and provision.

Stephen Evans, Chief Executive of Learning and Work Institute, said
Literacy, numeracy and digital skills are vital for life and work. But with nine million adults lacking these skills it is deeply concerning that participation in basic skills learning has fallen 60% in a decade. We urgently need a clear strategy to increase participation, backed by a focus on funding, policy and practice. Everyone should have access to the skills they need for life and work.
Getting the basics right L&W infographic