THE BLOG

Leading UK Businesses Pledge to Tackle UK Literacy Challenge

25/11/2015 13:11 GMT | Updated 24/11/2016 10:12 GMT

We have today revealed the 41 high profile businesses that have pledged their commitment to tackling the literacy challenge in the UK. KPMG, Boots Opticians and Pearson are among the companies who have signed the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge 2016, which has been developed by the National Literacy Forum, a coalition that we lead.

We are delighted that so many leading UK firms from a wide range of sectors are recognising the crucial role that business can play in raising literacy levels, boosting our economy and improving social mobility. This role is imperative in the current economic environment, with public spending focused on getting more for less.

Each business signatory has pledged to take clear action in three areas: in their workforce, in their local community and at a national level. This could include employee volunteering on literacy-focused activities in local schools, commissioning research on literacy or using their business networks to build support to combat the literacy crisis.

As low literacy continues to undermine the UK's economic competitiveness, tackling it has never been more important to business. It has been estimated by National Literacy Forum partner KPMG that a failure to master basic literacy skills costs the taxpayer up to £2.5 billion every year. Low literacy also incurs direct costs to business, with research showing that 36% of employers are dissatisfied with young people's literacy skills and 22% have had to provide remedial training.

The Pledge builds on the Vision for Literacy 2025, a policy document released by the National Literacy Forum in October 2014 with cross-party support. It called on the whole of society to play a part in raising literacy levels and recommended four areas where sustained policy action is needed to achieve its ultimate aim for all children to have the literacy skills they need to succeed by the time they finish secondary school. The Vision for Literacy Business Pledge 2016, developed with the support of KPMG, provides a framework for businesses to play a vital role and have a significant impact.

We know that many businesses from a variety of sectors are already doing fantastic work. Our partner Boots Opticians is helping to improve the literacy outcomes of the UK's most disadvantaged children by giving staff two days to volunteer in local schools. Penguin Random House is offering employees the opportunity to participate in Beanstalk's reading scheme, while volunteers from Pearson are supporting families with early language development through our Early Words Together programme.

We are looking forward to seeing more visionary work in 2016 as signatories take action to improve literacy for their workforces, their communities and nationally, which will help to ensure that every young person is equipped with the literacy skills they need for employment and life.

The businesses who have signed the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge 2016 are: Baker & McKenzie, BalticCreative, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP, Better World Books, Bird & Bird LLP, Boots Opticians, British Land, Browns Books for Students, Canongate, Clifford Chance, Costa, Crédit Agricole CIB, Deloitte, Egmon, Hachette, Insight Consulting Group, KPMG, Man Group, Mayer Brown International, McDonald's, Mitie, Nabarro, Norton Rose Fulbright, OCR, Pan Macmillan, Pearson, Penguin Random House, Pinsent Mason, Premier League, Prinovis, Professional Publishers Association, Publishers Association, PwC, Routledge, Sainsbury's, Simon and Schuster, Slaughter and May, Travers Smith, Walker, Waterstones and WHSmith.

The National Literacy Trust is a national charity dedicated to raising literacy levels in the UK. Our research and analysis make us the leading authority on literacy. We run projects in the poorest communities, campaign to make literacy a priority for politicians and parents, and support schools. To find out more, visit: www.literacytrust.org.uk