31 January 2018

63 leading businesses have signed the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge 2018 to join the fight to tackle the UK’s literacy crisis which costs the economy £2.5 billion every year [1]. Signatories of the pledge will look to target their resources where they can make the biggest difference to the UK’s literacy challenge – in the early years.

Established in 2015 by the National Literacy Forum, of which Beanstalk is a member, the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge has boosted the reading, writing speaking and listening skills of some of the most disadvantaged children, young people and families in the UK.

Throughout the year, businesses including Amazon, MAN Group, The Phoenix Group, Purple Bricks, HCP and Southern Water will be supported to address the literacy problems that exist within their workforces, in the local communities where they have a presence, and on a national level.

Last year, founding signatory KPMG supported the literacy of more than 500 deprived children with 150 of its employees volunteering 1,000 hours of their time on literacy activities. What’s more, the pledge provided direct benefits for the businesses involved, with 91% reporting increased employee engagement, morale and motivation and 64% highlighting an improvement in team working skills.

Over the past three years, the pledge has seen a 46% increase in the number of businesses committing their support. Amongst the new signatories for 2018 are household names John Lewis, Clarks and Metro Bank. The pledge also has the backing of the Department for Education.

As the UK prepares to leave the EU, low literacy poses a greater threat to the nation’s economic competitiveness and sustainability than ever before. Not only do young people in the UK have some of the worst literacy skills in the world, but those same young people are entering the workforce with poorer literacy skills than the older workers they are replacing, creating a stark skills deficit [2].

To address this shortfall in basic literacy skills, 23% of businesses provided remedial training to school and college leavers last year [3], but this only solves part of the problem. Signatories of the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge 2018 will therefore look to target their energies and resources where they can make the biggest difference – in the early years.

Ginny Lunn, Chief Executive Officer at Beanstalk, said:

“As a member organisation of the National Literacy Forum it is extremely positive to see so many more businesses signing the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge 2018. It indicates a real understanding of the responsibility that the UK workforce has in helping improve the outcomes of our young people and we hope that it will lead to even more businesses pledging their commitment. At Beanstalk we work with a number of these companies who continue to support our vision to reach more children who need one-to-one reading support in primary schools. By bringing together our expertise with theirs we can build a stronger future for the younger generation and create more opportunities to help them thrive.”

Businesses can find out more about the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge, or register their interest in becoming a signatory for 2019, by visiting: https://literacytrust.org.uk/businesspledge/

For another way to support the literacy of children and young people in the community, the National Literacy Trust and Walker Books have launched a Literacy Toolkit for businesses to gift to local primary schools. The toolkit is filled with books, activity sheets, teaching resources and much more to inspire children to fall in love with reading for a lifetime. For more information, visit: https://literacytrust.org.uk/literacytoolkit

Notes to editors

[1] KPMG (2009) Every Child A Chance Trust (2009) The Long Term Costs of Literacy Difficulties, 2nd ed

[2] OECD Skills Study (2016) Building Skills for All: A Review of England

[3] CBI (2017) Helping the UK thrive: CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey 2017

About the National Literacy Forum

Beanstalk is a member of the National Literacy Forum which is led by the National Literacy Trust and brings together organisations which contribute to literacy outcomes through their expertise and knowledge of policy and of local delivery programmes.

See the full list of signatories for the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge 2018 here.