Literacy and numeracy affect people's lives. Strong literacies skills help people fulfil their potential, achieve their goals, and take advantage of opportunities. When individuals do well, so do their families, communities and employers.
Our recent Literacy Action Plan emphasised the Scottish Government's commitment to raising the literacy skills of Scotland's citizens. Within that overall framework, this strategic guidance, Adult Literacies in Scotland 2020 ( ALIS 2020), outlines more detailed plans to improve the literacies capabilities of Scotland's adults over the next 10 years.
Since the launch of the Adult Literacy and Numeracy in Scotland (2001) report, over 200,000 adults have improved their reading, writing and number skills. Public awareness of the importance of improving literacy and numeracy skills has increased thanks to our Big Plus campaign, and learning providers across many sectors continue to provide diverse learning opportunities.
And we've made improvements to the standards of delivery, ensuring adult learners get a high quality and flexible service. It is vital that we continue to build a professionalised workforce.
Our success in implementing these first stages of adult literacies development is a direct result of the hard work and commitment of learners, practitioners, learning providers and all our partners. I want to thank them for their efforts.
However, there is more to do. That is why we have produced new, fresh strategic guidance on the way forward, to build on our solid foundations to increase the number of adults with stronger literacies capabilities.
The Scottish Survey of Adult Literacies 2009 reminded us that low literacies are often linked to poverty and are likely to adversely affect people's health and well-being, financial status and ability to participate in society.
That is why we are reflecting these themes in this strategic guidance - family, health, justice and financial capability. We want every citizen in Scotland to have the literacies capabilities necessary to bridge the poverty gap, to understand and shape the world they live in, and to enjoy the rich knowledge and benefits that being able to read, write and use numbers can bring.
In today's economic climate, it is vital that the deliverers of literacies learning, and those referring people to provision, work in partnership to maximise the resources available and to share best practice. Employers must also play their part in identifying and supporting employees who need help to improve their literacies skills. A strongly literate and numerate workforce is an essential component of a competitive business, the route to innovation, creativity and productivity.
Finally, it is a great pleasure to thank all stakeholders who contributed to this refreshed strategy. I welcome their, and others', commitment to achieving its aims. Together we must sustain our efforts to raise standards of literacies amongst all our citizens and continue to provide adults with access to learning opportunities when and where they're needed, allowing them to progress seamlessly to their next steps of further learning or into employment. In doing so, we all benefit.
Angela Constance MSP
Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning