Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Raising Skills Is Crucial to North Success

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Raising Skills Is Crucial to North Success

Article excerpt

Byline: By Cathy Spencer

One in three of us has learning problems, new figures show - but help is at hand.

A campaign to improve literacy and numeracy among adults in the North East has been launched.

Get On North East is a two- to three-year multi-agency scheme, which is backed by the Chronicle.

Get On North East Government Office regional director and chairman of Basic Skills Task Force Jonathan Blackie helped launch the drive at Sunderland's Stadium of Light.

He said: "About 400,000 adults in the North East have reading, writing and basic mathematical skills below the level necessary to cope at work and in many other situations in their daily lives.

"Across the region this equates to between one-quarter and one-third of the adult population."

Get On North East aims to bring the region up to the England national average and improve the quality and quantity of training available.

Mr Blackie continued: "I see better literacy, numeracy and English language attainment as a fundamental requirement to unlocking the North East's potential.

"It's the foundation for the wholesale regeneration of the region. Our low attainment in these essential skills impacts on our competitiveness in the global economy and locks many communities, families and individuals into cycles of deprivation, poverty, exclusion, crime and ill health that ultimately affects us all."

According to figures, businesses employing up to 100 people can lose as much as pounds 86,000 a year through poor essential skills. They also prevent employees gaining technical and vocational qualifications. Mr Blackie said: "Better literacy, numeracy and English language skills are a fundamental step on the road to creating a more prosperous region with a better quality of life for all our people.

"There's a lot of good work already taking place in the region to address this issue but it's never before been brought together under a single regional focus. This scheme will build on the success of the national Gremlins campaign in encouraging adults to seek training but if the North East was simply to reach its nationally-set targets we'd still lag behind other parts of the UK. …

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