Photo credit Skley via CC BY-ND

Photo credit Skley via CC BY-ND


You might be surprised to know that 16% of adults in England are classed as ‘functionally illiterate’. This means they have a level of English that is the same or below that of an eleven year old. These adults will struggle to access many jobs and therefore may not be able to reach their full potential. Most of these 5.2 million people will be trying to keep their level of English a secret feeling ashamed of their ability. These secret millions are all around us and they need our help.

Sources: Literacy Trust

Sources: Literacy Trust


Think about your organisation. How does it support those with learning needs? Are some of those 16% sitting in your offices, working in your factories, driving your vehicles, delivering your goods, serving your customers? What are you doing to help them? One third of employers do not provide any form of staff training. Is yours one of them?


One of the biggest expenses to an employer is staff turnover. One way to retain staff is to make them feel valued and one way to do this is to provide them with training to help them improve their skills.


It has become acceptable for people to say,

“I’m rubbish at maths.”

but it is less acceptable to say that you are no good at English. Adults are fearful about admitting this ‘secret’ perhaps feeling they may lose their employment, if they have successfully found a job, or that colleagues will make fun of them. As a society, we should be encouraging people to admit that they need support and helping them to access that support. Why stop at English? It shouldn’t be acceptable to be rubbish at maths either. 24% of adults are working at or below level one in maths. What sort of message are we sending the next generation if we are telling them that having good maths skills doesn’t matter?


I would urge all employers to look at the learning needs of their staff and find out how they can support them to achieve their full potential. This should not only be beneficial to the staff but the employer should find their staff are more likely to remain loyal to the company if they feel their employer is investing in them thus reducing overall costs. Improved English skills also mean improved communication skills and this is one of the biggest requirements employers have. A workforce that communicates well should be an effective and efficient one.

In a survey of nearly 200 employers the top skill they identified as looking for when recruiting was effective communication.


Join my call to action today and do your bit to help. Don’t let a lack of English and maths skills be a shameful secret anymore.


If you would like to find out more about a bespoke English and/or maths course for your employees, please click here to find out more.