Headlines: September 30th, 2005

Newcastle City Council has become the first local authority to sign up to a national campaign designed to encourage councils and their staff take a more practical and ongoing approach to developing workplace skills for life. The council will work in partnership with Trade Unions under the Get On (GO) Local Government Award to provide support for employees who want to improve their literacy and numeracy skills.The Newcastle scheme will be delivered in partnership with the council’s Basic Skills Service and it will also identify support for workers with dyslexia.

The Employers’ Organisation for Local Government says the more than 430 local authority employers in England and Wales have a workforce of more than 2 million. It estimates that 230,000 of these, equivalent to 11 per cent of the total workforce, are below level 1 in literacy and 780,000 – 40 per cent of the total – are below level 1 in numeracy. Level 1 is equivalent to GCSE grade G. The organization says the aim of the awards is to raise the demand among local authority employers for a more proactive, sustained and strategic approach to workplace basic skills.

Darrin Cutting, Head of Newcastle City Council’s Training and Development department, said signing up to the GO Award was a natural progression for the authority, building on its previous achievements in this field. “Not only will the scheme offer staff support with literacy and numeracy, it will give them confidence to seize new opportunities, ” he said.

He was supported by Councillor David Faulkner, the city’s executive member for Culture, Libraries and Sport, who said the flagship scheme would not only give members of staff the confidence to develop their basic skills but would also ensure the council could continue to provide top quality services for local people.