Wednesday, June 13, 2012

ESRI report on literacy levels amongst unemployed shows need for integrated Govt action

Statement by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin
Labour Party TD for Dublin North Central
Wednesday, 13th June 2012

Labour T.D Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has responded to a report issued by the ESRI and NALA (National Adult Literacy Agency) which states that unemployed people with literacy and numeracy difficulties who receive training are three times more likely to move out of unemployment within a year than others who receive the same training.

The report also states that there are no targeted responses to this group.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin stated: 'It has long been my belief that Ireland's literacy levels are a matter of grave national concern and demand an integrated national plan as a response.'

'Literacy and numeracy are basic tools that empower an individual to fully engage not just in the labour market, but in society as a whole. The failure of government departments to look beyond the classroom to tackle the literacy crisis is an indictment of traditional territorialism which has only succeeded in allowing far too many Irish citizens to fall through the net.

'International statistics show that disadvantaged three year olds have a vocabulary of merely one-third of their more advantaged peers. National statistics show that 30% of children in disadvantaged areas have basic literacy problems and the PISA results have recently shown how poorly our 15 year olds compare in literacy standards.

'It is time for state agencies to realise the massive responsibility that falls upon them to tackle our long-term literacy levels, and also on the Department of Social Protection to engage with unemployed people with literacy difficulties so as to empower them with the skills they need.

'This requires a national movement with literacy and numeracy at its core which brings all agencies of the state on board to engage and empower families and communities at the earliest stage. We also need to respond to this report pro-actively and to use the report as a wake-up call to the state's responsibilities in this area.

'This report is timely and I will be sure to pursue this matter on the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education', Deputy Ó Ríordáin concluded.