There are an estimated 9 million working aged adults in England (more than a quarter of adults aged 16-65) with low literacy or numeracy skills or both. This reflects England's overall performance in the Survey of Adult Skills - around average for literacy, but well below average for numeracy relative to other OECD countries in the Survey. These 9 million people struggle with basic quantitative reasoning or have difficulty with simple written information. Weak basic skills reduce productivity and employability, damage citizenship, and are therefore profoundly implicated in challenges of equity and social exclusion. This report explores the factors behind these findings, and proposes policy solutions.
For England, a further concern is that young adults perform no better than older ones. So although adults approaching retirement age (55-65 year-olds) in England compare reasonably well with their counterparts in other countries, younger people are lagging badly behind.