ERIC Number: ED430160
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
Use It or Lose It? The Impact of Time out of Work on Literacy and Numeracy Skills.
Bynner, John; Parsons, Samantha
A British study examined whether people's literacy and numeracy skills get worse if they are out of paid employment. It was based on a sample of adults aged 37, who are part of the major cohort study, the National Child Development Study. Only those persons who left school at age 16 were included. Some of the findings were as follows: (1) when men were out of work, their numeracy skills got steadily worse, with those who had poor skills to start with seeing their skills decline sooner and more; (2) time out of paid employment was also linked to a decline in numeracy skills in women, but to a lesser degree; (3) reading skills were more resilient for both men and women--unemployed women had a small decline in skills whereas men's skills declined only if they had poor skills to start with; (4) other influences, such as socioeconomic status, had great influence on whether skills declined during unemployment, but at least small skill losses were suffered at all levels. The study concluded that since reading is used all the time, being out of work has less impact. In addition, since some numeracy skills are used in work but not in everyday life, they are more likely to be lost when people are out of work. Finally, those who had a reached a skills threshold were less likely to lose their skills and training in work appeared to protect against skills loss. The findings underline the importance of opportunities for unemployed people to improve their basic skills. (KC)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Basic Skills Agency, London (England).