NIACE research finds encouraging English and maths provision for unemployed adults

12 December 2013

A research report on English and maths provision for unemployed adults, published by NIACE today, shows that unemployed people are increasingly likely to be able to access forms of English and maths training designed to improve their chances of finding work. This report follows last week’s important announcement in the Autumn Statement of a new pilot project, which will require young people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance without a Level 2 in English and maths to participate in training from day one of their benefit claim.

The NIACE research report – Helpful approaches to the delivery of English and maths for unemployed adults – commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, shows that providers are evolving their English and maths provision to better meet the needs of unemployed adults. Providers are now offering more intensive and personalised provision that is contextualised to help learners gain relevant labour market skills and are also working closely with employers to deliver flexible opportunities that suit adults when they are both unemployed and in employment.

The report’s author, NIACE Senior Project and Lead Officer for Employability, Robert Gray, said:

“Our research shows that providers are receiving more referrals to English and maths provision from Jobcentre Plus (JCP), local authorities, housing associations and community organisations. Increasing numbers of individual job seekers are also enquiring about English and maths provision without being referred. This is absolutely vital, alongside the impact of other recent developments, to help people access the crucial training they need to secure fulfilling jobs and careers. It is encouraging to see the increased use of e-based approaches, the value of Functional Skills and QCF unit-based qualifications and increased flexibility and freedoms at JCP, in particular their streamlined referral process.

“When asked as part of the research, providers identified that taking part in English and maths provision enables learners to better meet entry requirements for job vacancies and Apprenticeships. It also equips them to read and reply to job adverts more effectively, be more confident in working online, develop their interview skills, have greater confidence and self-belief, and establish a routine away from family demands.”

Despite the many positive developments, providers still often face systemic barriers. To help overcome them NIACE’s report recommends that:

  • The Skills Funding Agency scopes whether demand for skills provision from unemployed adults can be matched by current provider capacity and funding
  • BIS commissions research into how unemployed learners can continue to develop their English and maths skills once they find employment

BIS has already acted on one of the other recommendations in the report by commissioning further research into the intensive delivery of English and maths provision for unemployed adults.