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Vision for Literacy Business Pledge
24 November 2020
As the daughter of a former librarian, I am a passionate reader. As a child I loved nothing more than to lose myself in a good book. But being able to read doesn’t just enable you to escape into great story, it also has the power to change lives.
Previous research from The National Literacy Trust (NLT) and Experian reveal serious literacy issues across the country, which will no doubt have been compounded by the fact that many of our school age children lost many months of education due to the lockdown earlier this year.
Children who have low literacy skills at a young age typically fail to get good grades at school, locking them out of the job market and having a major impact on their social mobility. The skills gap between the least and most disadvantaged people in our society is apparent at just five years old, where our poorest children start primary school 19 months behind their better off peers in language and vocabulary. This is a deficit most children don’t recover from during their school life and one which experts estimate will take decades to eradicate at the current rate of change.
Improving literacy levels is not an issue our education system can fix alone. UK business must be at the heart of efforts to create a society where talented young people have the same opportunities to fulfil their potential, regardless of their background.
To this end, KPMG are delighted to lend our voice to the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge which gives UK businesses the support they need to tackle literacy problems in their workplace, local community and on a national level.
The value that good literacy skills bring as an enabler for social mobility has never been more important. Through our skilled volunteering offering, we support 500 children each year to improve their reading skills. This includes using technology to deploy ‘virtual literacy volunteers’ to primary schools in more remote areas, to ensure we are able to reach those in greatest need.
In collaboration with the NLT in 2020 we provided 150 instant libraries to schools and to disadvantaged communities throughout the UK. Each library includes 30 books for ages 5 — 11, educational activity packs, and a years’ membership of the NLT.
We’ve also donated Little Ladybird Libraries to communities in Manchester, Merthyr Tydfil, Cornwall, Belfast and Glasgow as part of the BBC’s Tiny Happy People initiative. Backed by the Duchess of Cambridge, this initiative supports parents with tools to help develop their children’s language skill. We also recognise the role children’s books can play in driving inclusion. That’s why we’ve supported Little Box of Books to distribute over 4,000 inclusive books to early years settings.
Business has a powerful role to play in reducing the UK’s literacy gap by helping children and young people – its future workforce – gain the skills they need to get a good job and have a successful life.
We’ve already had so much great support for the pledge, but this year we need more businesses to get on board. The impact of the global pandemic could have far reaching impacts on literacy levels in the UK and the opportunities for young people entering work as we face a tougher jobs market.
Playing our part is not only a win for businesses, but a win for everyone, as we look to address the inequalities in our communities across the country and help more families climb out of poverty and into a more successful UK economy.
As an employer it is within our gift to make a difference.
More detail on KPMG’s commitment to improving literacy in the UK can be found here.
Become a member
Our members include over 200 of the capital’s leading employers across a wide range of sectors, with a common commitment to our capital.