Annex B. Methodology

The OECD Building Skills for All project used a questionnaire built for this project supported by the input and insights from a diverse group of stakeholders through bilateral interviews and further education college site visits.

The OECD received responses from the Department for Education to the OECD questionnaire including questions as below:

  1. 1. How does the government define weak adult basic skills?

  2. 2. What tools are used to diagnose the basic skills levels of adults?

  3. 3. Which government policies – with what levels of funding - address the problem of weak adult basic skills?

  4. 4. How does government segment the population of adults with weak basic skills?

  5. 5. What government policy – with what levels of funding - focuses specifically on the question of adults in work with weak basic skills?

  6. 6. How has policy changed over the last 10 years?

  7. 7. What is the role of non-governmental organisations in enhancing the skills of adult workers – in general terms and in work?

  8. 8. What influence does government have over non-governmental organisations working in the field?

  9. 9. What research has been commissioned by government to build understanding of effective responses to the problem of weak adult basic skills? Please describe relevant research projects which are either ongoing or have been completed over the last 10 years.

  10. 10. What research has been most influential on policy development over the last 10 years?

  11. 11. What incentives exist for employers to engage in policy interventions aimed at enhancing the basic skills of workers?

  12. 12. What policy interventions have been undertaken over the last 10 years to encourage or enable employers to engage in policy interventions aimed at enhancing the basic skills of workers?

  13. 13. What policy interventions have been undertaken over the last 10 years to encourage or enable employers to change the character of work to enhance or sustain the development of basic skills?

  14. 14. What is a reasonable self-assessment of government action to enhance and sustain the development of basic skills for adults in general – and in work, in particular – over the last 10 years?

  15. 15. Please provide summary statistics for: i) Learners in different adult basic skills programmes. ii) Characteristics of learners in basic skills programmes (in terms of age/gender, educational background, migration status, employment status).


[17] Belfield, C., C. Farquharson and L. Sibieta (2018), 2018 annual report on education spending in England,

[11] Booth, S. (2017), Annex B: Basic Skills in workplaces – a behavioural insights perspective – research report, London: Department for Education,

[13] Carpentieri, J. (2014), Improving basic skills in adulthood: participation and motivation, Literature review prepared for the European Commission Working Group on Adult Learning,

[2] Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2012), The 2011 Skills for Life Survey: A Survey of Literacy, Numeracy and ICT Levels in England,

[22] Department for Education (2020), Apprenticeships and traineeships data,

[18] Department for Education (2020), Further Education and Skills, England: March 2020,

[16] Department for Education (2018), Adult Education Survey 2016,

[25] EIB (2018), EIB Investment Survey: United Kingdom Overview,

[19] Eurostat (2020), Participation rate in education and training (last 4 weeks) by type, sex, age and labour status [trng_lfs_11] based on labour force surveys,

[24] Federation of Small Businesses (2017), FSB skills and training survey,

[15] Fialho, P., G. Quintini and M. Vandeweyer (2019), “Returns to different forms of job related training: Factoring in informal learning”, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 231, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[23] Gloster, R. et al. (2016), Mapping investment in adult skills-which individuals, in what learning and with what returns?, BIS Research Paper,

[12] Grotlüschen, A. et al. (2016), “Adults with Low Proficiency in Literacy or Numeracy”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 131, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[20] Henseke, G. et al. (2018), Skills Trends at Work in Britain – First Findings from the Skills and Employment Survey 2017, London: Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies, UCL Institute of Education.,

[3] Ipsos MORI (2018), UK Consumer Digital Index 2018,

[1] Kuczera, M., S. Field and H. Windisch (2016), Building Skills for All: A Review of England,

[4] National Numeracy (n.d.), National Retraining Scheme – National Numeracy initial evidence for Discovery Phase questions,

[27] OECD (2019), Getting Skills Right: Future-Ready Adult Learning Systems, Getting Skills Right, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[29] OECD (2019), Individual Learning Accounts : Panacea or Pandora’s Box?, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[28] OECD (2019), OECD Employment Outlook 2019: The Future of Work, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[8] OECD (2017), Getting Skills Right: United Kingdom, Getting Skills Right, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[5] OECD (2016), OECD/INFE International Survey of Adult Financial Literacy Competencies,

[7] OECD (2016), Skills Matter: Further Results from the Survey of Adult Skills, OECD Skills Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[9] OECD (2012), Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC),

[10] ONS (2019), Analysis of enterprises in the UK by employment size band, 2018, ONS,

[30] ONS (2019), EMP17: People in employment on zero hours contracts, (accessed on 12 July 2019).

[26] Payne, J. and E. Keep (2011), One Step Forward, Two Steps Back? Skills Policy in England under the Coalition Government,

[6] Pro Bono Economics (2014), Cost of outcomes associated with low levels of adult numeracy in the UK,

[14] Reder, S. (2015), Longitudinal perspectives on adult literacy development and program impact,;dn=460480749119628;res=IELAPA.

[21] Thornton, A. et al. (2018), Learners and Apprentices Survey 2018,

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