The OFT has published the evaluation report of its consumer education toolkit 'Skilled to Go'.
'Skilled to Go' was launched in June last year, and aims to help adult learners develop consumer skills such as writing a letter of complaint, buying goods such as a mobile phone, and calculating discounts on products. The toolkit is free to users, and is designed to increase the consumer confidence and knowledge of learners.
The toolkit was trialed for a six week period, involving 135 adults attending literacy and numeracy courses in further education colleges in London and Glasgow.
Research showed that of those participating in the programme:
64 per cent said they now felt very or quite confident in knowing their consumer rights, compared to 20 per cent at the beginning of the course
a doubling in the number of learners who felt very or quite confident in being able to find out about their rights regarding consumer issues, from 23 per cent to 52 per cent
when tested, learners demonstrated a 13 per cent increase in consumer knowledge, for example where to find further help and support, and also how to shop safely online, and
the learners´ ability to handle consumer scenarios rose by up to 14 per cent.
The research also found that 'Skilled to Go' had particular appeal to groups of learners who were traditionally hard to reach in an educational setting, such as young men and those who generally require longer periods to demonstrate progress in their skills such as language (ESOL) learners.
Almost half of further education colleges in the UK have now signed up to use 'Skilled to Go' on the OFT website, and the toolkit is now being used in secondary schools in Scotland.
Barney Wyld, OFT Director of Communications, said:
'Consumer education is an important part of our work at the OFT, and we know that skilled, confident and well-informed consumers contribute to the OFT´s wider remit of making markets work well for consumers.
''Skilled to Go' is targeted at adult learners who can benefit from developing the everyday consumer skills that some people take for granted. Developing these skills is a long term process but the pilot has shown how much progress learners made in just six weeks. 'Skilled to Go' has proved to be an effective tool in learning these important life skills.'
1. 'Skilled to Go' offers learning resources for teachers in the form of activities such as games, quizzes, listening and video activities, and a range of tactile materials as well as comprehensive teacher notes and background consumer information.
2. The evaluation was carried out by LLU+ which is a teacher training and consultancy centre based at London South Bank University.
3. The pilot programme involved trialing two modules of the 'Skilled to Go' toolkit in a range of contexts and settings with 16-18 year old and adult learners. Data collection was undertaken at the beginning and end of the pilot programme to evaluate the effectiveness of the toolkit by benchmarking learners´ consumer confidence and knowledge, their perception of their consumer, LLN and IT skills and their ability to handle consumer scenarios with related literacy and numeracy skills. Learners´ and teachers´ feedback on the modules throughout the pilot programme was used to adapt 'Skilled to Go' activities.
4. Prior to the launch, a pilot programme took place with learners and teachers in two large further education institutions: City and Islington College, London, England, and Glasgow College of Nautical Studies, Glasgow, Scotland. Over a six week period, a total of 135 learners in 11 different learning contexts spent over 500 hours trialing materials from the Buying and selling and Technology modules of the ‘Skilled to Go´ toolkit. Of these, 78 learners participated in the profiling and benchmarking data gathering activities. A total of 95 learners and 10 teachers took part in the feedback on the resources and the results were outstanding.
5. 'Skilled to Go' was launched in June 2008 on the OFT website.