NALA welcomes Budget announcement but more resources are needed for adult learners

11 Oct 2016

Increased funding for higher and further education is welcome but additional resources and incentives are still necessary for all adult learners who want to return to education

The National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) welcomes today’s Budget announcement of an increase of €36.5m in funding for higher and further education. NALA also welcomes the announcement of a new€500 annual Cost of Education Allowance. The allowance will be made available to Back to Education Allowance participants who have children and who qualify for social welfare.

Speaking about the announcement, Inez Bailey, CEO, NALA said: “Any investment that makes it easier for adults to return to education is welcome. However, people with low level skills should be prioritised so it is vital that the new allowance is made available to all adults with less than a Level 4 or Leaving Certificate equivalent qualification. The allowance should also be made available to adults with less than a Level 4 qualification who are employed and don’t receive social welfare as there are many people across the workplace that have literacy and other educational needs. Currently in Ireland there are 481,100 adults, aged between 24 – 64 years, who have less than a Leaving Certificate qualification. ”

“The National Skills Strategy 2025 has set a target to upskill 165,000 people from PIAAC Level 1 or below in literacy, and 256,000 people from PIAAC Level 1 or below in numeracy, by 2025.  If Ireland is serious about building its skills capability it needs to rethink how it is going to support all adults with low skills and low levels of education.”

For further information contact:

Patrick Gleeson, Communications Officer, NALA, 01 412 7916/ 086 792 5363.

Notes for editors

In the recent PIAAC OECD Adult Skills Survey, the Central Statistics Office interviewed 6,000 people aged 16 – 65 in Ireland and assessed their literacy and numeracy skills. The results found that almost 18% or 1 in 6 Irish adults are at or below level 1, the lowest level on a five level literacy scale. At this level a person may be unable to read basic text. Some 25% or 1 in 4 Irish adults are at or below level 1 for numeracy. At this level a person may be unable to do a simple maths calculation, for example adding up prices.