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Jobseekers to pilot literacy and numeracy improvements


John HealeyAdult Skills Minister John Healey and Minister for Work Malcolm Wicks yesterday welcomed the start of pilots that will identify and improve the literacy and numeracy skills of people on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). These include providing financial rewards to those who complete basic skills training, and reducing JSA for people who refuse to improve their skills.

The Ministers also announced an additional pilot that will look at the effect of identifying a need for literacy or numeracy training when people start claiming JSA.

Mr Healey said:

“I am very pleased to see the start of this latest programme aimed at reducing the number of adults who struggle with reading, writing and everyday maths. This is one of a number of innovative approaches being tested to encourage and motivate adults to improve their literacy and numeracy skills. Almost half of all unemployed people do not have the literacy and numeracy skills expected of an eleven year old. This is why the government made unemployed people a priority of its Skills for Life strategy.

“These pilots are getting underway shortly after the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, Estelle Morris, launched the Get On promotional campaign, aimed at encouraging people with literacy and numeracy problems to take up training.

“I am particularly pleased we are able to announce an additional pilot, starting at the end of next month in Cambridgeshire, which will identify people with literacy and numeracy skills needs from the start of their unemployment, at the New Jobseeker Interview. This will help us to establish the most effective point of intervention with jobseekers. The results of these pilots will determine how we encourage participation and raise achievement in literacy and numeracy skills among jobseekers in future.”

Mr Wicks said:

“For those who are out of work, a lack of literacy and numeracy skills has a dramatic effect, with 50% of jobs closed to those who have only entry-level basic skills. This is why I very much welcome these pilots, which complement the range of measures the Employment Service already uses to help unemployed people improve their skills and gain lasting employment.

“The JSA pilots will test different options, and I am pleased this will now including the additional pilot in Cambridgeshire to screen people for literacy and numeracy skills needs when they first make a claim for JSA. The Hackney & City/Thames Gateway pilot will screen people receiving JSA after 13 weeks’ unemployment

“Other pilots will provide financial incentives to people on JSA to improve their literacy and numeracy skills, or reduce JSA for those who refuse training. On Wearside jobseekers will be offered an additional £10 a week, with £100 more when they improve their skills, to see if this encourages more adults into learning. In North Nottingham, unemployed people who have literacy and numeracy skills needs, but who refuse to take up learning to bring their skills up to scratch, risk losing their Jobseeker’s Allowance for a short period. And in Leeds, we will test the effect of financial incentives alongside the requirement to improve skills. Jobseekers will only be expected to take part in training that is appropriate to them or their circumstances. Alongside these, in Greater Nottingham a new, faster screening process will be tested.”

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