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Basic and employability skills

Governments across the world have engaged CfBT to develop and improve basic work-related skills, in particular numeracy and literacy, which are fundamental to learning and employability.

We work with both school-age children and older learners to improve basic and work-related skills through improving literacy and numeracy. Our approach is evidence-based and places a particular emphasis on the measurement of impact. We have sponsored significant global research into the teaching of mathematics and languages. See the Enhancing primary mathematics teaching and learning report; see the Lessons from abroad report.

Core skills for school-age children

National Strategies in the UK
CfBT managed the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategies in England providing support to all government schools between 1998 and 2005. The intervention was highly successful, and helped children in England to improve their performance in these areas as measured by standardised tests. More recently the Welsh government has commissioned CfBT to lead its National Support Programme: Literacy and Numeracy (2013-16). This aims to raise the standards of teaching, learning and attainment in these basic skills in all 1,600 primary and secondary schools in Wales.

Core skills on an international scale
Our expertise in the design of curriculum standards in core subjects is considerable. In Qatar, for example, CfBT helped design new curriculum standards for English, Arabic and mathematics on behalf of the Supreme Education Council. The standards were benchmarked against best international practice and covered all grades from kindergarten to 12th grade. We are currently working with the government of Oman on the revision of curriculum standards in key subject areas.  With funding from the American government, we also support the Ministry of Education in Kenya to improve reading and mathematics among primary age children in disadvantaged areas.

Further details of CfBT's extensive work to improve the standards of basic education across the world are detailed under school improvement.

Employability skills for learners aged over 16

Skills for Life
We played a key role in delivering the UK government's Basic Skills Quality Initiative that later evolved into the Skills for Life Improvement Programmes. These programmes were designed to improve theoretical teaching and learning in vocational education and, in the years that CfBT was involved, standards in colleges rose as reported by the inspectorate. Within this context, CfBT worked alongside specialist dyslexia organisations to devise a unique training programme: Supporting Dyslexic Learners.

Improving college teaching standards
As part of CfBT's work in improving vocational training and education in England, we improved the standards of college teacher training. We helped ensure that new intakes of vocational teachers were able to support literacy and numeracy learning, and that specialist teachers focused on the specific literacy and numeracy need of a particular craft or vocational area.

Work-based literacy and numeracy programmes
Between 2009 and 2011 CfBT led the largest work-based adult literacy and numeracy programme ever run in the UK: Skills for Life at Work. The programme was designed to help meet the national skills shortage and thousands of adults in low-skilled employment improved their literacy and numeracy as a result.

Work readiness skills on a global scale

Our work extends on an international scale and we support employability for adults and young people aged over 16 outside the UK. Our international portfolio includes:

  • global consultancy for the European Union on transition between the world of school and the world of further education and work
  • partnership with government agencies in the UAE and Oman on support for 'work readiness'
  • a major programme of support for vocational college students in India to develop their English and employability skills through our Job Smart scheme.

Case studies

Business English in India

Job Smart is a programme providing supplementary English language and employability skills to college students in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The programme aids transition to work.

Latest research

Employer engagement in education

23 January 2014 | England

This important report was undertaken for CfBT by the Education and Employers Taskforce. It reviews existing and new evidence about how employer engagement can improve on the learning and progression of young people.

Raising maths attainment through enhanced pedagogy and communication

01 June 2013 | England

Results from a large-scale 'teacher-level' randomised controlled trial which investigated adult learning in numeracy.

Surfacing bubbles of submerged talent

01 December 2011 | England

The Urban Scholars Programme is a unique intervention programme for urban students aged 12 to 16. This report presents the findings of this programme and is based on 100 scholars who attended the programme from 2006-2010...

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Laura Bell

Head of National Careers Service

Laura Bell

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