The report from the National Audit Office notes that the Department for Education and Skills achieved its 2004 target of increasing the skills of 750,000 people. Achievement of the 2010 target will require a further 1.5 million learners to achieve a first qualification.The Department has sponsored a variety of approaches to identifying people with low skills and engaging them in learning, but it will need to continue to find and sponsor new and creative ways to persuade more people with the lowest skill levels that improving their skills is worthwhile. Although the Department has promoted initiatives to engage employers, progress at local level is slow. Low skilled employees are one the hardest groups to reach and more small and medium sized employers need to be persuaded of the benefits of raising the skills of their employees.
Voluntary and community organisations are essential partners because they are often best placed to encourage into learning those people who are very hard to reach. Barriers to these organisations becoming effectively involved have been identified and the Learning and Skills Council is working to address them.
Skills for Life: Improving Adult Literacy and Numeracy is published by the National Audit Office and available at: http://www.nao.gov.uk/