Literacy, numeracy and activation among the unemployed.

12 Jun 2012

Little is known about the experiences of unemployed individuals with literacy and/or numeracy difficulties in Ireland, particularly with respect to the nature and effectiveness of any assistance that such individuals received through the National Employment Action Plan (NEAP). NEAPis Ireland’s main activation policy for assisting the unemployed to reintegrate back into the labour market.

Little is known about the experiences of unemployed individuals with literacy and/or numeracy difficulties in Ireland, particularly with respect to the nature and effectiveness of any assistance that such individuals received through the National Employment Action Plan (NEAP). NEAPis Ireland’s main activation policy for assisting the unemployed to reintegrate back into the labour market. This study utilised data from the Department of Social Protection/ESRI Profiling Project, which collected information on unemployed individuals between September 2006 and June 2008.

The main findings of the study are:

1. Unemployed individuals with literacy and/or numeracy difficulties are more likely to become long-term unemployed.

2. However, such individuals are not more likely to be in receipt of government-sponsored training under the National Employment Action Plan (NEAP).

3. The research also shows that when those with literacy and/or numeracy difficulties do receive training that they benefit by much more than average: they are 29 per cent more likely to exit the Live Register compared to 11 per cent for the full unemployment population.

4. In essence, the research shows that individuals with literacy and/or numeracy difficulties can be effectively activated within the mainstream NEAP system. The research suggests that literacy and/or numeracy difficulties, in themselves, do not substantially restrict an individual’s ability to benefit from both mainstream general and medium skills training programmes.

 

“It is well established in research that people with weak literacy skills are more likely to be unemployed. Therefore it should follow that this issue is an important consideration in labour market policy and, in particular, activation policy. However, this has not always been the case and we are concerned that unemployed adults with literacy needs and those with low educational attainment are not being adequately prioritised for labour market activation. This research puts forward an argument for this to be changed,” said Inez Bailey, Director, National Adult Literacy Agency.

 

For further information please contact:

Elish Kelly (Research Officer, ESRI), + 353 1 8632063, elish.kelly@esri.ie;

Seamus McGuinness (Associate Research Professor, ESRI), + 353 1 8632067 or + 44 7955739681, seamus.mcguinness@esri.ie;

Philip J. O’Connell (Research Professor, ESRI), + 353 1 8632064 or + 353 86 8244675, philip.oconnell@esri.ie;

Clare McNally (Public Relations Officer, NALA), + 353 1 4127909 or + 353 87 6486292, cmcnally@nala.ie.

 

Notes To Editors

1.        Literacy, Numeracy and Activation among the Unemployed, by Elish Kelly, Seamus McGuinness and Philip J. O'Connell (ESRI), will be published online on the ESRI website (www.esri.ie) and the NALA website (www.nala.ie) at 00:01 am Wednesday 13 June.

2.       Members of the media are invited to attend the launch, by Joan Burton, T.D., Minister for Social Protection, on Wednesday 13 June at 9 a.m. at the ESRI, Whitaker Square, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2.

3.       This study was funded by the National Adult Literacy Agency.

 

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About NALA

The National Adult Literacy Agency is an independent membership organization, concerned with developing policy, advocacy, research and offering advisory services in adult literacy work in Ireland. NALA was established in 1980 and has campaigned since then for the recognition of, and response to, the adult literacy issue in Ireland. According to the last international survey about half a million Irish adults have problems with basic reading, writing and maths.