Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today announced his plans to develop a new 10-year adult literacy, numeracy and digital literacy strategy.

The Minister will task SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority, with the development of the strategy and asked them to report back within 6 months.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “One in six adults in Ireland has problems reading and understanding information, while half of us lack basic digital skills.

“For many adults, this can be debilitating. It can prevent access to employment, or education. Or it can be a barrier to the everyday tasks such as helping children with their homework or reading your prescriptions.

“Many of us believe access to a smartphone or an ability to use social media makes us digitally literate but we know half of us lack the basic digital skills needed.

“These challenges face individuals every day but Covid-19 reinforced many of those obstacles. Today, on International Literacy Day, it is vitally important we acknowledge these challenges and try to improve them.

“I have updated my Government colleagues of my plan to develop a new strategy to build on and streamline the substantial work that is already being done in this area, to increase awareness of services for the public and to capture the contribution that can be made right across Government to deliver better literacy, numeracy and digital skills in the adult population. I am looking forward to strong engagement across Government and with stakeholder bodies, communities and citizens.”

Andrew Brownlee, CEO of SOLAS, said: “Literacy and numeracy has long been a cornerstone of Further Education and Training (FET), channelling circa €30m each year to deliver a range of literacy and numeracy supports via ETBs, NALA and community organisations, as well as embedding digital skills development across most Level 1-4 provision. SOLAS is delighted to be tasked with leading the development of a longer-term strategy to address literacy and numeracy needs and the digital divide, with a cross-Government approach critical to its success.”

In the Programme for Government ‘Our Shared Future’, there is a commitment to develop a 10-year strategy for adult literacy, numeracy and digital skills.

The strategy will take a whole-of-government approach and provide a framework to support individuals to improve their literacy, numeracy and digital skills.

The aim of this new strategy will be to ensure that everyone has the literacy, numeracy and digital skills to meet their needs and participate fully in society. Its development will involve input by relevant Government Departments and agencies.