Literacy in Ireland

According to the European Commission, around 1 out of 5 European adults struggle with basic reading and writing, calculation or using digital tools in everyday life.

In Ireland, the most recent international skills survey shows that 520,000 people aged 16 to 64 find reading and understanding everyday texts difficult: for example, reading a leaflet, bus timetable or medicine instructions. 754,000 people have difficulties using maths in everyday life for example, basic addition, subtraction and calculating averages.

This has a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities. Unmet literacy and numeracy needs costs everyone: our society, economy and environment, financially and democratically.

Why are literacy levels low?

There are many reasons why people have difficulties reading, writing, working with numbers or using everyday technology. Some may have left school early. Others may not have found learning relevant to their needs.

Most adults with literacy difficulties can read something but find it hard to understand official forms or deal with modern technology. Some will have left school confident about their literacy skills but find that changes in their workplace and everyday life make their skills inadequate.

For example, if a person left school before junior cert and didn’t have to use their reading and writing skills in their work or home life, they could easily get out of practise and lose confidence in their ability to use those skills. Literacy is like a muscle. If you don’t use reading and writing skills every day you can get out of practise.

Why is it important?

Low literacy has a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities. People with low literacy skills have low educational attainment, earn less income and are more likely to be unemployed. They also risk being trapped in a situation in which they rarely benefit from adult learning, and their skills remain weak or deteriorate over time.

People with literacy difficulties are more likely to report poor health, to believe that they have little impact on political processes, and not to participate in volunteer activities. They are also less likely to trust others.

Low literacy also costs public services, businesses and the economy millions each year.

Taken together, the results emphasise the importance of literacy and numeracy skills for a more inclusive society – in people’s participation in the labour market, education and training, and in social and civic life.

Check in and take off with the CITO Skills Checker!

The CITO Skills Checker has been developed to help tackle this issue and provides a positive experience for adults to explore their learning goals, recognise their existing skills and identify what skills they could develop. Relevant online and local learning opportunities are suggested so that adults can go on to improve their skills, learn new ones and achieve their learning goals.

You can check out the CITO Skills Checker today!

CITO Skills Checker