Adult Numeracy Learning Portal Shelved by DFE

Numeracy skills in the workplace

In 2021 the UK Government announced a £560m fund to improve adult numeracy skills, calling it ‘Multiply’. With approximately nine million adults in England with low numeracy skills, the Multiply project was welcomed by many organisations supporting adults with their numeracy skills.

A major element of the Multiply project was a new online learning platform hosting numeracy training resources, costing an estimated £100m. An online platform, accessible 24/7 was seen as a great solution to offer adults a flexible way of developing their skills; whether working around family or work. However, the procurement, which was expected last year, hasn’t taken place, apparently to enable a government review of how other elements of the Multiply project are working. Other sources expect the under spend to be clawed back by the Treasury.

The review will look at how successfully £430m of the Multiply funding, which was distributed to local authorities, is developing numeracy skills through face to face numeracy classes. But, according to the DfE only 13,500 learners have been enrolled on these classes so far.

Low levels of numeracy and literacy skills are not just an issue in the UK, they are having a significant negative impact on the global economy affecting economic growth and development. Lower productivity is one of the main issues, as employees struggle to accurately, and in a timely manner, complete numeracy and literacy tasks. As all employers know, low productivity has a direct impact on output and competitiveness, and to remain competitive a business also needs to innovate. Numeracy and literacy skills are crucial for fostering innovation and technological advancement. These skills enable individuals to adapt to new technologies, comprehend complex information, and engage in critical thinking. Low levels of numeracy and literacy can impede the adoption and effective utilisation of technology, limiting innovation and hindering economic progress.

There is a correlation between low levels of numeracy and literacy and low paid jobs. Income equality can also hinder economic growth by reducing consumer spending and limiting investment opportunities.

So in conclusion, addressing low levels of numeracy and literacy skills is crucial for improving economic outcomes globally. Governments, educational institutions, and other stakeholders need to prioritise investments in education and literacy programs to equip individuals with the necessary skills to thrive in the modern economy. By improving access to quality education, enhancing workforce training, and promoting lifelong learning, societies can mitigate the negative impacts of low numeracy and literacy skills and foster sustainable economic growth. It therefore seems short sighted for the UK Government to shelve or even postpone the numeracy learning portal.


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