A study has suggested the UK could fall four places in global literacy tables by 2030. 

The Learning and Work Institute examined the literacy and numeracy levels of 17 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries and developed a model to project what these would be in 11 years. 

Their prediction shows, despite the proportion of adults with at least level 2 (GCSE or functional skills) proficiency rising from 83% to 85% in literacy, the UK would fall from 10th to 14th place. 

However, the report’s authors also conclude that the government could reverse this decline by intervening now, primarily by focusing on improving the level of basic skills. 

This would require an additional three million people to boost their functional literacy by 2030 by doubling current rates of adult attainment in these skills and qualifications. 

The drive to enrich and enhance language and literacy is also at the heart of International Literacy Day, which was launched by UNESCO, the United Nations education agency, more than fifty years ago. 

Nearly 800 million people around the world – two thirds of them female – are illiterate in their own languages. And UNESCO recently warned that promises made by world leaders to raise global education standards by 2030 are unlikely to be kept. It says on current trends 30% of adults and 20% of young people will still be illiterate in poor countries and adds the numbers missing out on education are unlikely to fall much in the next decade. 

There are 262 million young people without access to school, with the worst problems in sub-Saharan Africa. 

It’s hoped that celebrating literacy on September the 8th will inspire more to study reading and writing and help create more education opportunities. 

As well as inviting donations from adults to the International Literacy Association, school children are being asked to let a teacher know they’re appreciated by offering a small gift, sending them a card or simply saying thank you.  

Teachers, of course, are incredibly important in not only sharing the basics of reading and writing but also helping schoolchildren nurture a lifelong love of literature…and even develop a professional writing style of their own. 

The best teachers of the English language need to have a deep understanding of their subject; where gaps appear, learning falters. And this means the best teachers are constantly reading, growing their knowledge and passing fresh perspectives direct to their class. 

On top of this, they get to know pupils’ personalities and personal interests – with this insight, they can fine tune reading and writing lessons not only to help understanding but also inspire youngsters to seek out books for themselves and try their hand at creative writing. 

Of course, a positive experience of reading and writing at home is also necessary to ensure learning continues. If the home environment is not the best it can be, this is where support workers specialising in child care and education may come in. 

Not only can they give practical and professional help to kids going through tough times but also facilitate learning opportunities.  

And it’s not only skills for youngsters: clients can include adults with learning difficulties or disabilities, young offenders or recovering addicts. 

A family support worker works closely with families in their own homes to assess their needs before suggesting a care and education plan. This could involve organising extra coaching in reading and writing. 

A residential support worker, meanwhile, is there to assist vulnerable residents of care homes, hostels, children’s homes and youth centres – many of whom might find themselves struggling with literacy.  

It takes good listening skills, compassion and understanding to be a support worker. You’ll also need to be flexible when it comes to hours as working evenings, weekends, overnight or being on-call can all be part of the job. 

In return comes the immense satisfaction of witnessing achievements every day and the knowledge you’re having a positive impact on lives for the long term. 

Once a curiosity in books has been inspired, where better to nurture a love of literature than a library? Although many of the UK’s libraries have sadly disappeared in recent years there are still treasure troves where it’s the job of the library assistant to help keep the shelves stocked and organised, guide lenders through the different genres and authors and even host reading days where they or local writers can share their favourite books. 

Whether it’s a Harry Potter novel from JK Rowling or Revolting Rhymes poetry by Roald Dahl, getting kids interested in books can also be helped by the work of PR and marketing pros. 

From creating advertising campaigns to organising launch events and serialising books in newspapers to promoting them on social media, it’s the marketing executive’s mission to make sure their author is well known and well read.  

If you’d like to open a new chapter in your own career, explore the opportunities a job in literacy can offer by reading the latest vacancies on x1jobs.