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Driving action on UK literacy

Poor literacy skills hold people back. They also come at a huge cost to UK plc – around £2.5bn in lost tax receipts every year. As the world of work changes, the UK economy will increasingly call on workers to re-skill for the jobs of the future. Without basic literacy skills, people risk being left behind.

We recognise that good literacy skills are an enabler for social mobility. Through our skilled volunteering offering, we support 500 children each year to improve their reading skills. This includes using technology to deploy ‘virtual literacy volunteers’ to primary schools in more remote areas, to ensure we are able to reach those in greatest need.

Vision for literacy business pledge

We are proud of our commitment to tackling poor literacy. Through our role as lead business signatory for the Pledge, we champion much needed change.  

Established in 2015, today the initiative has engaged 79 leading businesses, all focussed on closing the nation’s literacy gap and boosting social mobility. With Covid-19 having a significant impact on the literacy of disadvantaged students, our collective role is now more important than ever.

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Reading the future

In collaboration with the National Literacy Trust (NLT), we’re providing 150 instant libraries to schools and to disadvantaged communities throughout the UK. Each library includes 30 books for ages 5 - 11, educational activity packs, and a years’ membership of the NLT.

In support of the BBC’s Tiny Happy People initiative, we’ve donated Little Ladybird Libraries to communities in Manchester, Merthyr Tydfil, Cornwall, Belfast and Glasgow. Backed by the Duchess of Cambridge, this initiative supports parents with tools to help develop their children’s language skills. We’re proud to be a key corporate supporter.

We recognise the role children’s books can play in driving inclusion. That’s why we’ve supported Little Box of Books to distribute over 4,000 inclusive books to early years settings.

Increasing numeracy skills and confidence

We’re committed to driving numeracy action. With nearly half the working-age population having the numeracy skills of a primary school child, we know more needs to be done to help them to fulfil their potential.

By engaging our people, our supply chain and the wider business community, we are tackling the impact of poor numeracy.

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National Numeracy Day

We were the founding supporter of National Numeracy Day in 2018, which aims to raise awareness of the value and presence of numbers in everyday life and help people feel confident in calculating sums.

Since its creation, the day has inspired over 100,000 people to take the first steps to improving their numeracy.  In 2020, we were delighted to see a 125% increase in people taking the Challenge (compared to 2019) and to have over 1,300 supporting organisations involved.

We’re proud of the positive impact we are having on improving the UK’s numeracy skills.

Committing to lifelong learning

With longer working lives and rapid technological progress, we know that in tomorrow’s economy, a lifelong learning mindset is critical.

We work hard to deploy technology, enable essential skills development and support lifelong learning - with a focus on resilience and career encounters.

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WorkReady

We teach students the skills they need to thrive in the future world of work. We encourage them to become lifelong learners. Our focus is on the most disadvantaged areas of the country, where digital literacy lags and meaningful encounters between students and employers are limited.

We are proud to say that last year, our programme supported its 10,000th student. But we want and need to do more. We know that Covid-19 has had a noticeable impact on young people’s wellbeing and that this can impact their ability to fulfil their potential. That’s why we are pivoting our future focus from technology, to resilience building and independent learning.

Our Corporate Responsibility story