Business needs to worry about literacy

The Covid pandemic has hit children's literacy hard. Why should businesses care?

Business needs to worry about literacy

The Covid pandemic has hit children’s literacy hard.  Why should businesses care?

According to government figures it is estimated that 200,000 children will leave primary school this summer without having reached their expected level of reading for their age! 

Apart from the obvious feeling, that we care as humans about our little people, why when talking to an audience of entrepreneurs and business leaders does this matter? 

Let me share my view on this subject with you, and why I think it matters a great deal to business. 

It is widely understood that reading is the foundation of all learning and the natural literacy progression goes like this; early years > primary > secondary > further education > work. At each stage of this journey the child needs to have mastered the basics for that stage in order to successfully progress to the next, make sense?

Now consider the effect this will have on these youngsters in ten years time when they are applying for their first job or, having their first job interview. 

The reality is, that although the pandemic has increased the instance of low literacy levels, the problem already existed and is affecting young people as they transition from education to the workplace, in remarkable numbers. 

I have heard it widely described by recruiters as the ‘skills crisis’, which sums it up very well. Without doubt it exists on many levels and it’s not going away. 

So knowing what we know, what can we, as entrepreneurs and leaders, do to help redress the position and help young people towards their first steps on the career ladder?

Businesses are only as good as the people they employ, which is why they invest in the training and retaining of their employees. An able, motivated and happy work force has a direct link to a stronger bottom line, via lower costs, the saving of time and, a better quality of work.

But what can businesses do today for children in their early years to help reduce the numbers of children suffering with poor literacy in the future?

They can support educators and children alike, by investing in them through corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes, allowing employees time off to spend time in schools listening to children reading, increasing on and off the job training schemes, being willing to take on apprenticeships etc. The Fonetti Schools Sponsorship Package for example enables businesses to provide, and by signing up to an annual subscription to its school portal, letting teaching staff monitor pupil progress and allowing them to allocate limited resources where most needed.

Schools and children have struggled during this last year and I believe that business owners need to be part of the solution, not absent from it.  

Low literacy levels have a huge impact on each and every one of us, it defines what a person can and cannot do.  Good literacy means better communication, better relationships, better opportunity and better success, both for the individual and the business.

Ensuring that we raise the calibre of employees, through good literacy skills, enables us to secure a better workforce for the future and that, in turn, means a healthier, more profitable business.

If businesses aim to thrive and grow in the future, literacy is vital. And this is why all businesses should be interested in the literacy skill levels of our children today.

Kim Antoniou
Kim Antoniou

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