Wiltshire Council has been awarded £2.1m from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to help adults improve their maths skills through the provision of new courses.
The tailored support is part of the roll-out of the government’s Mulitply programme which offers free courses for adults who have not achieved a Level2/Grade 4 (formerly Grade C) in maths.
The funding has been allocated over a three-year period (2022/23 to 2024/25).
Officers from the council’s Employment and Skills team have already begun working with local organisations and businesses to develop courses and provision using the Multiply funding.
These include: Wiltshire College offering courses to develop confidence with numeracy; Wiltshire Citizens Advice will provide support with money and budgeting to assist with the current cost of living crisis; Libraries will be offering numeracy courses across Wiltshire.
Grant funding of up to £10,000 will also be available to small businesses or organisations who wish to help staff members develop their numeracy skills and who would not normally have the funds to do so.
This could be through bite-sized courses or interventions directly targeted to support individuals.
The idea behind the funding is that improved numeracy skills can help employees become better at their roles, boost productivity, increase profits and improve retention.
Projects could also target those individuals and communities who have not traditionally engaged with maths skills, perhaps because
of previous poor experience, lack of confidence or lack of opportunity.
Cllr Laura Mayes, cabinet member for Education & Skills, said: “Maths and numeracy skills impact on all of our daily lives. Taking small steps towards improving our maths doesn’t have to be scary and ultimately it can have a big impact on our work and life prospects.
“Our officers are working with organisations such as Wiltshire College and Citizens Advice to develop and roll out courses and encourage people to take the first steps to develop confidence with numeracy and budgeting, whether this is for work or home.
“With the current cost of living crisis and the need to balance household budgets, learning new skills has never been more important.
“As part of our business plan, we have committed to ensuring that Wiltshire residents have the right skills to prosper and to support in improving confidence and knowledge.
“Securing this funding and developing free numeracy courses will be key in meeting this target. Courses will be tailored to encourage people to take that first step at a pace and level suited to them.
The additional funding available to businesses will also cater for employees who are looking to upskill and further their careers within their current workplace environment.
The council is encouraging organisations to come forward with their proposals and to take advantage of this great funding opportunity.
Cllr Kevin Bentley, chairman of the Local Government Association’s People and Places Board, said: “We are pleased to see the government working closely with councils and devolved authorities to get the Multiply programme up and running at speed, as they know how best to deliver this much-needed investment and tailor it to local need.
“Local government is best placed to engage residents who would benefit from increasing their numeracy skills to get on in life and work.”
Further information on the Multiply scheme and courses offered, plus guidance for business applications is found www.wiltshire.gov.uk/multiply-grant-scheme.
Applications for a Multiply grant must be submitted by 5pm on Wednesday, 30th November via the online application form.
Applications will then be reviewed and assessed by a panel with grants being paid from December onwards.