11. October 2013 11:53
Scorn and humiliation have been heaped on the literacy and numeracy skills of adults in England and Northern Ireland. The UK (excluding Scotland and Wales) has scored poorly – 13th in literacy and 16th for numeracy – in a major new study by the OECD of more than 150,000 people aged 16 to 65 in 24 countries.
In the OECD study, published in October 2013, Japan came out top both for literacy and numeracy, with Finland 2nd in each case. In literacy places 3 to 5 in the rankings were filled by the Netherlands, Australia and Sweden; in numeracy it was Sweden, the Netherlands and Norway in that order.
One bright spot in the findings for the UK – it is rated much better in getting people to use their skills at work. Andreas Schleicher, OECD deputy director for education, comments that the UK and US is “very good at extracting the maximum out of limited skills bases”, but Japan is only “so so”. Individuals “that are highly skilled get a lot out of this, those that are poorly skilled pay a high price”, he said.
The study shows that England is the only country in the survey where results are going backwards – with the older generation better than the younger. It is worrying that England's 16 to 24-year-olds lag behind in 22nd place for literacy and 21st for numeracy out of 24.The study reveals that there are 8.5 million adults in England and Northern Ireland with the numeracy levels of a 10-year-old.