Correspondence between the Chairman of
the Employment Sub-committee and the Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP, Minister
for Employment, Welfare to Work and Equal Opportunities
We have now had a chance to review the evidence
you gave to the Committee on 17 May. During the session you told
us that 40 per cent of people in the New Deal Gateway were functionally
illiterate. I do not think that it is an exaggeration to say that
we were a little shocked by that revelation. We would welcome
any further information that you could provide to the Committee
on this matter. In particular, it would be helpful if you could
let us know the source of the figure and on what basis it was
calculated. It would also be very useful if you could provide
us with a working definition of the term "functionally illiterate".
Rt Hon Derek Foster MP
Chairman of the Employment Sub-committee
Thank you for your letter of 4 July about the
number of people in the New Deal Gateway who have literacy problems.
As the official records show, I did not say
in my evidence to the Committee that 40 per cent of people on
the Gateway were functionally illiterate. Instead I said that
an estimated 40 per cent have a lack of literacy skills which
affects their employability.
Around 40 per cent of entrants to the New Deal Gateway have qualifications
below NVQ level 1. This is an estimate as literacy skills are
determined by a range of indicators, such as a lack of basic qualifications
or an inability to manage simple paperwork, like application forms.
I want the New Deal to play its full part in
supporting young people with basic skills difficulties. It is
our ambition that young people should leave the New Deal literate.
That is why we have set in place a comprehensive screening process
which means that every young person is now given a basic skills
needs assessment when they join the Gateway. New Deal Personal
Advisers (NDPAs) have been given help to handle the process of
identification in a sensitive manner and a thousand NDPAs are
being trained by the Basic Skills Agency in the identification
of basic skills and support for learners. Courses to improve basic
skill levels are built into the design of New Deal at both Gateway
and Options stages.
I hope that this clarifies the position.
Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP
Minister for Employment, Welfare to Work and Equal
2 Eighth Report from the Education and Employment
Committee, Session 1999-00, New Deal for Young People: Two
Years On. HC 510. Back