Employment minister Tessa Jowell has announced that young people joining the New Deal programme will be asked to complete spelling and numeracy tests and will be offered intensive coaching to improve reading, writing and numeracy if they need it, in a further effort by the government to boost applicants' employability.
New Deal advisers will receive training to assess those with literacy and numeracy problems and there will be immediate screening of applicants to identify those with training needs.
Tessa Jowell said: "I am determined that the New Deal must do everything within its power to ensure young people are equipped for work and no longer have to go through life keeping the guilty secret that they can’t read or write. Too many people struggle to read, write and do simple sums".
The announcement comes in the wake of the Skills Task Force study which found that nearly 7 million people in the UK are functionally illiterate. The government has announced a war on adult illiteracy in the wake of this report, but the fact that this programme is aimed at 16-24-year-olds sits uncomfortably with the ever-rising GCSE and A Level results announced by the government each year, and suggests that a growing gap is developing between those who achieve at school and those who do not.