From education to employment

New E – Learning Initiative Launched to Target Basic Skills Deficits in Adult Population

The skills deficit that Britain faces, whether considered from the point of view of the young people constantly highlighted or considered from the point of view of the adult learner with a basic skills lack, remains a gulf to be bridged.

For arguably the fourth strongest economy in the world, Britain’s performance in international education league tables remains below that of the competitors. The Government have invested a great deal in the effort to build this provision; but much remains to be done. A new initiative has been launched to meet the challenge of the adult population who experience a skills shortage; this programme is known as “Sure Skills.”


The programme targets the approximately five million adults who lack literacy skills up to Level 1, and the fifteen million that are believed to be lacking in numeracy skills up to Level 1. It seeks to offer the learners the chance to renew their skills, and to build on their current skills at a rate that is conducive to their ongoing study without disrupting their daily lives.

The resource is being provided online, and as such will offer a range of innovative opportunities for adult learners to learn in new and different ways. Interactive activities will be on offer, as will mini ““ tests to help assess the rate of progress and the specific areas that still need to be tackled. After the course, the aim is to bring the adult participants to the level that allows them to take the National Test in Literacy and Numercay.

The level of the adult learner, of course, is variable; and many programmes can fall down on the premise that the people attending the course are all beginning from the same place. Sure Skills claims to be accessible to all regardless of previous experience and ability. It aims to allow the tutor to cater to the needs of each individual learner through building what the programme calls “personalised learning routes.”

Furthermore, a “learner management system” supports the entire programme. This will enable the individual tutors to supervise the progress of each individual learner, and thus allow them to assess the needs on a more personal level. Written by a team of experts in conjunction with Harcourt Education through one part of the organisation ““ Heinemann – it targets the priorities of the Government as set out in their 2001 policy statement “Skills for Life.”

Benefits to All?

Jane Longford, a lecturer in Additional Learning Support at Dudley College, commented on the impact of this programme to the learners she has experience in teaching. She said: “As a practising lecturer I know how important it is that learners on these courses have access to a high level of input and practice materials.

“Tutors need to be able to offer learners lots of reinforcement and consolidation, with relevant examples and contexts,” she continued. “We are constantly striving to find high quality resources for our learners that are aimed at the appropriate levels. “Sure Skills” is a revolutionary solution, providing a stimulating, engaging and positive experience for the learners. The scheme is totally flexible, allowing learners to be directed up or down an ability level, according to their individual needs. At long last, lecturers will have a fantastic bank of online resources at their fingertips that match the National Curricula.”

Harcourt is a leading provider of e ““ learning resources, with Heinemann as part of its portfolio. Jill Duffy, the Managing Director Vocational Learning at Heinemann added: “We are extremely excited about Sure Skills, our aim is to create resources that inspire generations and allow tutors to plan lessons as effectively as possible within the constraints on their time, never is this more critical than with adult learners. Sure Skills has the power to make a difference through its potential to break down barriers to learning in adults and we look forward to developing this area further.”

Adult learning has featured in the news, but largely through the cutbacks in provision. With cuts in Government funding for “nonessential” adult learning ““ in other words, training and education that does not specifically deal with employable skills ““ it is often forgotten that there remain strict targets for adult skills deficit improvements. Hopefully, “Sure Skills” will help to achieve them.

Jethro Marsh

Stay here and swing with the monkey in From the FE Trenches!

Related Articles