Investment in adult literacy and education is needed to help people meet the challenges of automation and globalisation in the 21st century

5 Apr 2019
Mairead McGuinness MEP was the guest speaker at NALA's AGM on 6 April

“When it comes to the essential skills of literacy and numeracy, we know that too many citizens are left behind.” Mairead McGuinness, MEP

Mairead McGuinness, MEP and Vice President of the European Parliament was speaking at the National Adult Literacy Agency’s AGM on Saturday 6 April.

Investment in adult literacy and education is needed to help people meet the challenges of automation and globalisation in the 21st century

The National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) is asking for increased investment in adult literacy and education, ahead of the local and European elections in May.

A new OECD report on adult education and training found that automation, globalisation and population ageing are changing the quantity and quality of jobs as well as the skills they require. Adult education enhances people’s skills and gives re-skilling opportunities to workers affected by these changes, including people who are most vulnerable with literacy, numeracy and technology needs.

“In Ireland very few adults participate in education and training each year. The most disadvantaged are least likely to take up education and training, with low-skilled adults three times less likely to do training than adults who are highly skilled. This shows how the cards are stacked against people with low skills specifically those with literacy, numeracy and technology needs,” said Dr Inez Bailey, CEO, NALA at the agency’s AGM on Saturday 6 April in the Aisling Hotel, Dublin.

Mairead McGuinness, MEP and Vice President of the European Parliament, was the guest speaker at NALA’s AGM. She also emphasised the importance of helping people with low skills to return to adult education.

“When it comes to the essential skills of literacy and numeracy, we know that too many citizens are left behind. They are left in a cold isolated place and the world is more challenging to navigate as a result. Adult education will help them improve their skills and play a more active role in society,” said Mairead.

However, we need to do more to ensure nobody is left behind when it comes to taking part in adult education. To achieve this in the upcoming local and European elections, NALA is calling on people to vote for councillors and MEPs who value adult literacy, education and lifelong learning and will support investing in literacy in the community and in Europe. This will help to improve the lives of people who have literacy, numeracy or technology needs.

In Ireland, 550,000 adults are at or below level 1 on a five level literacy scale while 750,000 adults are at or below level 1 for numeracy. One million adults are at or below level 1 on using technology to complete tasks. At these levels, individuals may not be able to fill in an application form, add up a bill, search the web, vote or help children with homework

For further information, please contact:

Patrick Gleeson, National Adult Literacy Agency, pgleeson@nala.ie  086 792 5363

About the new OECD report on adult education and training

This report presents the key results from the Priorities for Adult Learning (PAL) Dashboard which facilitates comparisons between countries along seven dimensions of the readiness of adult learning systems to address future skill challenges. The full report can be found at www.oecd.org/employment/getting-skills-right-future-ready-adult-learning...

 About the OECD Survey of Adult Skills

The most recent OECD Survey of Adult Skills showed that one in six Irish adults are at or below level 1 on a five level literacy scale. One in four Irish adults are at or below level 1 for numeracy, and two in five are at or below level 1 on using technology to complete tasks. For this survey the Central Statistics Office (CSO) interviewed 6,000 people aged 16 – 65 in Ireland and assessed their literacy, numeracy and ability to use technology to solve problems and accomplish tasks. The survey was conducted in Ireland between August 2011 and March 2012. The results were announced in October 2013.