Adults in England looking to improve their numeracy skills are set to benefit from a £270 million investment in new courses, with the aim being to help to level up opportunities for more people find well-paid jobs.
According to the independent charity National Numeracy, around 17 million adults in England – half of the working-age population – only have the numeracy skills of primary school children.
Local councils and mayoral combined authorities across England will receive the cash boost ahead of the rollout of the government’s flagship Multiply programme in autumn 2022. Funding will support the expansion and development of online and in-person local courses for adult learners.
Multiply is the government’s new £560 million programme designed to help transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of adults across the UK. It was announced in October 2021 and will be delivered through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. An online platform, offering online courses to adults across England, will launch later this year.
“Poor numeracy holds people back in their lives and careers. Multiply will be a launchpad for people to progress into better paid jobs that will help our economy grow.” — Alex Burghart, Minister for Skills
Multiply will offer adults who do not already have a GCSE grade C/4 or higher in maths, and need to improve their numeracy, free flexible courses that fit around their lives. Courses are expected to be available this autumn in person or online, at work or at home, and either on a part time or intensive basis. It is hoped that these courses will equip adults across the UK with the numeracy skills they need to fulfil their potential.
Employers who could benefit from boosting their workforce’s skills will be able to work with their local authority and training providers to deliver maths GCSEs or work-ready Functional Skills Qualifications as well as design and deliver bespoke programmes for their workforce – at no cost to them.
Minister for Skills Alex Burghart said: “As the son of a maths teacher, I know that, with the right support, everyone can do maths. That is why making sure everyone has good maths and numeracy skills is central to the mission of this government.
“Poor numeracy holds people back in their lives and careers. Multiply will be a launchpad for people to progress into better paid jobs that will help our economy grow.”
There are currently 240 online courses offered by councils and mayoral authorities throughout England, including fully funded maths courses up to GCSE to enable people to get the maths skills they need.
Multiply will build on this by offering a range of free training options helping people to build their confidence with maths in their every day and working lives.
The government prospectus outlining the new training scheme explains: “Through Multiply, we want to see these local areas invest in meaningful participation that boosts people’s ability to use maths in their daily life, at home and work…
“In addition to providing funding to local areas to deliver innovative solutions to increase adult numeracy levels, Department for Education will also be launching a national digital numeracy platform later in 2022.
“This will give people the ability to learn at their own place (including at work, or at home), and pace. Through the platform, we hope to see people sign up for personalised free online tutorials, to help them build their confidence and take the stepping stones towards a maths qualification. We also intend to signpost to Multiply courses in local areas and would welcome your support in ensuring this.”
The funding announced for England is part of a £2.6 billion investment through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund which is designed to help spread opportunity and level up the country.