Youth Literacy and Employability Commission
Research has found that many UK businesses have serious concerns about the literacy skills of recent school leavers. The Youth Literacy and Employability Commission is a joint venture between the All Party Parliamentary Parliament Group on Literacy and the National Literacy Trust to gather evidence and make recommendations to Government on what action is required.
Final report and recommendations
The final report was published on 12 December 2013. In it, the Commission makes a series of recommendations to Government, aimed at addressing the strong causal link between low literacy and youth unemployment. These include:
1. Increase the demand from schools for contact with business as an indispensable element in the teaching of literacy skills for the 11 to 14 age group.
2. Increase the supply of opportunities for young people to work with employees and develop realistic employment aspirations.
3. Improve brokerage between the business and education sector.
We produced two research reviews to support the commission.
On Thursday 5 September 2013, we held an evidence session in Parliament to hear from invited witnesses representing the three main stakeholders - employers, the education sector and young people themselves.
We also carried out a survey of practitioners, and worked with First News children's newspaper to collect the views of young people. KPMG, our partner on the commission, carried out employer consultations with some of the leading companies in the UK.
There is a strong link between literacy and employability in the UK: people with the lowest levels of literacy are the least likely to be employed while only 2% of families with good levels of literacy live in workless households.
Despite this well-established link, employers consistently claim that the education system is failing to equip young people with the skills required for an increasingly competitive job market. In 2011, the CBI Skills report noted that 42% of employers are not satisfied with the literacy of school leavers and as a result 44% have to invest in remedial literacy.
This is clearly linked to the growing issue of youth unemployment in the UK, where for the first time the number of 16 to 24-year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEET) has passed one million recently.
One of the most important factors in addressing social inequality is to ensure that school leavers have the literacy skills required to secure employment or further training. Furthermore, issues could be compounded in certain geographical areas if employers' concerns lead to disinvestment, as companies relocate to find a better skilled pool of potential staff.
The aim of the commission
The commission will engage businesses, young people and educationalists to gather evidence. It has four lines of enquiry:
- Do school leavers have literacy skills that will equip them for employment?
- What are the core literacy competencies required to succeed in the job market?
- What are the local and national effects of low levels of literacy in the job market?
- What are the needs of UK business and how can they play a key role in increasing literacy levels in the UK?