Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Questions (79, 143, 144, 145)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

79. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills the action plan developed for addressing unemployment if caused by adult illiteracy (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41234/18]

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Anne Rabbitte

Question:

143. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills the numbers achieved from 2011 to 2017 under the national skills strategy by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41231/18]

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Anne Rabbitte

Question:

144. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills the age targets (details supplied) achieved from 2011 to 2017 under the national skills strategy in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41232/18]

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Anne Rabbitte

Question:

145. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a target (details supplied) was not achieved within the 2011 to 2017 timeframe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41233/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 79 and 143 to 145, inclusive, together.

The National Skills Strategy 2025 includes information on the achievement of targets set out in the previous strategy, Towards Tomorrow’s Skills, which was published in 2007. Some of these targets used the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) as a reference point. Since 2007, the number of learners completing senior cycle at second level increased from 81% to 90.6%. This exceeds the 90% target set for 2020. 93% of people aged 20-24 achieved an award at Levels 4-5 or more on the NFQ in 2014. This was an increase of 7% on the baseline year of 2005, and just 1% short of the target for 2020.

However, progress was not as strong in relation to the target to increase the percentages of people in the labour force holding a qualification at Levels 4-5. A clear challenge also remains in relation to the share of persons with NFQ Level 3 as the highest level of education attained.

In the National Skills Strategy 2025, targets are set to reduce the percentage of adults scoring at level 1 in the PIAAC survey from a baseline of 17.5% to 12% by 2025, and to increase the percentage of adults scoring at levels 2, 3 and 4 in the PIAAC survey from a baseline of 44% to 50% by 2025.

The delivery and enhancement of adult literacy and numeracy provision is being driven through the implementation of the Further Education and Training (FET) Literacy and Numeracy Strategy which is contained in the FET Strategy 2014-19. My Department, along with SOLAS, the Education and Training Boards (ETBs) and partner agencies are collaborating on the ongoing development and enhancement of the structures required to progress its implementation. The strategy sets out 12 inter- related elements which aim to promote, develop and encourage literacy and numeracy skills in the adult population. Progress to date includes the development and launch of the national awareness campaign, Take the First Step, development of national guidelines for the initial and on-going screening and assessment of participants and the publication of a number of research projects including the examination of integrating literacy and numeracy in FET programmes and an examination of barriers to participation in FET programmes. This year SOLAS has commissioned NALA to progress the evidence base to inform best practice in relation to family learning. It is envisaged that Family Learning Best Practice Guidelines will be available in early 2019.

The SOLAS allocation to Education and Training Boards (ETBs) for 2018 for adult literacy and basic skills provision is over €35m. Funding for further education and training (FET) is allocated to SOLAS, who then allocate to the ETBs through a strategic planning process. There is some discretion for SOLAS and the ETBs in relation to how funding is allocated across all of the FET programmes, including adult literacy.

The ETB Adult Literacy Service provides programmes with accreditation at levels NQF levels 1-4. Provision for adult literacy is delivered through a number of programmes;

- Adult Literacy groups (small groups)

- Intensive Tuition in Adult Basic Education (ITABE)

- English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

- Skills for Work - workplace literacy courses

- Voluntary Literacy provision (one-to-one tuition)

- Family Learning Programmes

- Distance learning service

Details of the allocation of funding across programmes and the numbers of beneficiaries of those programmes is set out in the following table.

The adult literacy programme is informed by a set of operational guidelines that include guidance on initial assessment and engagement and the importance of more intensive provision to support literacy acquisition. Less intensive provision can be useful in welcoming and engaging new learners back into education but the guidelines recognise that more intensive approaches are required to enable progression.

I also recently launched a new policy framework for employee development, 'Supporting Working Lives and Enterprise Growth in Ireland', which was developed by SOLAS in consultation with key partners. This new approach will enable targeted support for vulnerable groups in the Irish workforce as it has a particular focus on employees those who have lower skills levels and who need more opportunities to advance in their working lives and careers, to sustain their employment and to avoid displacement or to avail of emerging job opportunities. The policy sets a target of having over 40,000 workers, whose skills level is below Level 5 on the NFQ, engaged in state supported skills development by 2021. It should be noted that while the NFQ is not a literacy scale but a qualifications framework, I am committed to addressing literacy issues amongst those whose highest level of qualification is below Level 5, including through achieving certification for their learning. This will supplement the numbers already being supported through our adult literacy programmes. Participation by employees in relevant courses will be provided free of charge.

The substantial investment already being made in adult literacy, supplemented by this new initiative to support those in employment, will also ensure that Ireland is well positioned to achieve the 2025 literacy targets set out in the National Skills Strategy 2025.

This new initiative is also a significant part of our national efforts to implement the European Commission's Upskilling Pathways Recommendation: New Opportunities for Adults, as almost half of those with less than an upper secondary qualification are in employment. My Department has been working with partners on the implementation of the recommendation – which aims to help adults with less than upper second level education acquire a minimum level of literacy, numeracy and digital skills. My Department has established a multi–agency steering group to identify the priority cohorts and appropriate measures to implement the recommendation. This informed my Department's recent response to a request from the Commission for information regarding arrangements in Ireland on upskilling pathways interventions. The response presented the overall context for Upskilling Pathways in Ireland, including key background information that the Commission would find useful, as well as information on existing and planned provision. The Commission are conducting an audit of interventions across Member States and hope to report back on their findings by the end of the year.

Adult Literacy Programmes in ETBs

Programme

Funding Allocation for 2018

Projected Beneficiaries  2018

Adult Literacy (incl. Family Literacy)

€26,312,079

37,876

ESOL

€2,341,231

14,749

ITABE

€1,569,483

2,778

Libraries Training

€11,500

N/A[1]

Refugee Resettlement (ESOL)

€2,991,243

1,341

Skills for Work

€2,532,281

4,064

Totals

€35,757,817

60,808

Fulltime provision that includes significant literacy and numeracy components include:

Programme

Funding Allocation for 2018

Projected Beneficiaries  2018

Justice Workshops

€747,217

174

Local Training Initiatives

€23,003,876

3,570

Specialist Training Programmes

€45,736,130

3,469

Specific Skills Training

€42,615,421

11,231

Youthreach

€66,335,038

7,169

Totals

€178,437,682

25,613

1. Information not available at this time