Sir George visited TABS Training at Alwich House, Winchester St in Andover and met Paul Connor, the Marketing Co-ordinator, Christine Ruddy the Centre Manager, and Yvonne Isles, the Administrator. Also present was Debbie Molloy, the Regional Performance Manager for University For Industry.
"TABS offers adult training programmes, the majority of which are fully funded by the LSC and therefore completely free-of-charge to both learner and organisation (where an employee undertakes a course). It is a sad fact that many adults in Andover have poor literacy and numeracy skills, relative to other parts of the county. And the UK as a whole lags behind its competitors - a fact highlighted by the Leitch Report, which was commissioned by the Government and published last November."
Sandy Leitch, in discussing the UK’s historic skills deficit, stated that the UK’s skills base remains mediocre by international standards. In OECD comparisons of 30 countries, the UK lies 17th on low skills, 20th on intermediate and 11th on high skills. 7 million adults lack functional numeracy and 5 million lack functional literacy. 17 million adults lack Level 1 numeracy – equivalent to a low level GCSE. The proportion of people with low or no qualifications is more than double that in Sweden, Japan and Canada. More than 50 per cent of people in countries such as Germany and New Zealand are qualified to intermediate level, compared to fewer than 40 per cent in the UK.
Sir George said he was interested to visit TABS Training and talk to those learning at its Andover base. "Through its Government-funded Learndirect and Train-to-Gain provisions, TABS is attempting to address the problem in the Andover area by offering Skills-for-Life and NVQ programmes. This is aimed at those people who failed to reach the grade at school and realise that their lack of basic skills is holding them back. It is also aimed at those people who lack the basic skills necessary to give them a good quality of life but are unable or unwilling to do anything about it."
"Those I met were enjoying the course, some of which could be done from home, and were confident of getting better jobs when they had finished."
Paul Connor, the Marketing Co-ordinator, told Sir George that he believed that the on-line training approach offered by TABS has many advantages for adults over traditional classroom teaching at schools and colleges. "There are no peer pressures or fears of intimidation, just flexible learning methods that allow learners to work at times and a pace that suits both the individual’s learning style and personal commitments. If more incentive is needed then consider the materials used in learning, which are topical, stimulating and dare I say – actually fun."