The Moser Report

The report of Sir Claus Moser's (Basic skills agency - June 2000: working group on post basic skills was published in February 1999. A fresh start - Improving literacy and numeracy, set out the problems of adult literacy and numeracy: It proposed the establishment of a national strategy designed to reduce the numbers of adults in England with poor basic skills in literacy and numeracy. It will establish:

  • New national standards and a core curriculum
  • New national tests
  • Training standards and programmes for teachers
  • Significant expansion in the number and type of basic skills programmes
  • Local basic skills action plans that will require partnerships between providers to be established

Central Government currently spends £11 Billion a year on life long learning (including further and higher education provision covering young people as well as adults). Key elements of current policy include :
  • Efforts to maximise initial education attainment, particularly in basic literacy and numeracy
  • Basic skills training for adults (especially since the Moser report on literacy and numeracy)
  • New forms of learning provision, using modern technologies to improve efficiency and access, as epitomised by Learndirect.
  • Engaging a wide range of intermediaries to support participation, eg with government support for community learning activities and the involvement of trade unions
  • A willingness to acknowledge and meet the additional costs to providers of attracting, recruiting and retaining non-traditional learners

Many of the new developments were outlined in the learning and skills bill, published at the end of 1999.

Recent skills audits in England highlight a deficit in basic and intermediate skills amongst adults. One in five adults has low levels of literacy and almost half have low levels of numeracy. Employers also report deficits in key skills, including working with others; improving own learning and performance; and problem solving. Other needs include learning for citizenship, for community regeneration and capacity building, and for parenting and family learning.

This is a time of considerable flux in the field of adult learning in England as new structures and policies come on stream. However, there remain a number of challenges including:
  • Raising the demand for learning among those who need it most, but are interested in it least
  • Encouraging a culture of continuous learning and development at all levels
  • Ensuring that new initiatives aimed at widening participation are not dominated by current learners
  • Ensuring that a concentration on qualifications does not distort funding and provision
  • Maintaining a commitment to social inclusion and the wider purposes of learning in the face of institutional inertia and conservatism
  • Ensuring that the life long learning agenda includes people of all ages

There has been a major growth in demand for childcare and eldercare provision, and this growth is set to increase. A number of factors have contributed to this growth, many of which are common to both sectors. For further information see:

For learning in later life : motivation and impact, there are numerous articles but the employment studies has set out key findings etc at:

Another useful article on labour market and skill trends 1998/99 ISBN: 1365 7399 can be found at:

The main report carried out by Sir Claus Moser can be downloaded from

This can be used to see where the areas of underdevelopment are and what steps are needed to be taken to shift the basic skill shortages and develop adults to compete in the global economy.

Partner references for Lancashire University dealing with basic skills can be found at the web site:

Further reading and reference material can also be found on the web at: