Increasingly, the economies of the developed world are being transformed into high skill economies. The days when millions of adults worked in unskilled or semi-skilled jobs are gone amid competition from the emerging economies with their relatively cheap labour forces.

The Skills for Life survey was carried out between June 2002 and May 2003. The survey was commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills. The aim was to produce a national profile of adult literacy, numeracy, ESOL, and information and communications technology (ICT) skills over five broad levels of competence.

This national needs and impact survey of literacy, numeracy and ICT skills was carried out by BMRB International on behalf of the Department for Education and Skills.

The survey results, summarised in this brief, provide a national profile of adult literacy, numeracy, ESOL and information and communications technology (ICT) skills over five broad levels of competence and offers some insight into the impact low levels of basic skills can have on people’s lives.

The survey was specifically designed to differentiate between the lower levels of ability.

Includes:

  • Introduction
  • Distributions of literacy and numeracy skills needs
  • The influence of education on literacy and numeracy
  • Literacy and numeracy skills and work
  • Literacy and numeracy skills in everyday life
  • Basic skills training
  • ICT results