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BIT and BIS launch The Behavioural Insights Research Centre for English and Maths

8th Apr 2014

We are delighted to announce that the Behavioural Insights Team and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills are setting up a new research centre. The Centre will develop and test interventions informed by behavioural science that can help improve adult literacy and numeracy and be scaled up by UK government policy makers. We’re really interested in hearing from academics, learning providers, and employers that might wish to participate in this ambitious, three year research programme. We will also be recruiting high calibre people with relevant academic and project management expertise in this area and we will post more details about this tomorrow.

In the UK, nearly 27 million 16-64 year olds are lacking formal Maths and English skills1. This is reflective of a long-standing issue of a skills deficit in the UK with improvement lagging behind other comparable economies (most notably in numeracy2): this impacts individual outcomes as well as the economy overall.

Our aim will be to establish a range of research programmes and randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that will test different ways of helping young adults to improve their numeracy and literacy. These trials will also explore the causal link between improved skills and life outcomes (e.g. to what extent does improving the numeracy and literacy skills of young adults improve employment outcomes?).

The Behavioural Insights Team’s specialism is applying ideas from the behavioural sciences to solve public policy problems, and devising low cost RCTs to test the effectiveness of new interventions. We will be working with a wide range of partners that can bring to bear their expertise in complementary areas, and in particular academics, employers and providers of services. We are particularly interested in collaborating with:

  • Providers of Maths and English training for adults (in the classroom, online or in any other way) interested in taking part in trials
  • Employers interested in testing ways of improving the basic skills of their workforce or customers
  • Academics interested in this field who may wish to collaborate either formally or informally

Email to get in touch.

[1] The Skills for Life Survey showed that 43% 16-64 year olds did not achieve at level 2 in English and 78% in maths

[2] In the 2013 International Survey of Adult Skills, England performed around the OECD average in literacy (joint 11th) but well below average in numeracy (17th out of 24)