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Friday, November 6, 1998 Published at 20:01 GMT


The 'learning poor' lose out on work

Lack of work linked to lack of education, says survey

The link between unemployment and low levels of education has been emphasised in a survey in Northern Ireland.

Among the unemployed, 36% have low levels of literacy, according to the Northern Ireland Literacy Survey.

[ image: Education Minister, John McFall, wants a culture of lifelong learning]
Education Minister, John McFall, wants a culture of lifelong learning
"The findings are confirmed by the most recent labour market statistics which show around 40% of the unemployed have no qualifications," said the Northern Ireland Education Minister, John McFall.

"We must address the needs of the 'learning poor' and bring them back into education," said Mr McFall.

The survey, which highlighted the close links between levels of education and success in employment, was evidence of the need for a "culture of lifelong learning in Northern Ireland", said Mr McFall.

"An educated and well-trained workforce, adaptable to change, is one of the keys to higher economic productivity and regional competitiveness.

"The sense of personal worth and self-esteem which can be the result of a second chance in education and training is also a key to social inclusion."

Income reflects education

The survey also found that people underestimated their own difficulties with literacy.

Although more than half of the survey's sample were at the lowest two levels of literacy, 38% of the survey felt their own reading to be excellent and 46% felt their reading to be good.

Those at the lower scales of literacy, if in employment, were likely to be on lower incomes and were less likely to receive training in work.

The survey's findings "show no significant differences" to the overall distribution of literacy skills in the United Kingdom.

The survey was carried out by the Central Survey Unit of the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, using a sample of 2,900 people.

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