Office of Fair Trading
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OFT launches its first education resource to boost consumer skills

OFT launches its first education resource to boost consumer skills

OFFICE OF FAIR TRADING News Release (73/08) issued by The Government News Network on 16 June 2008

The Office of Fair Trading has today launched its first ever education sector resource, with a new consumer education toolkit for teachers. This reflects the importance that the OFT places on helping to build skills and confidence amongst consumers to support them in dealing with businesses and making purchases.

The toolkit, 'Skilled to go', is a free online resource that uses everyday consumer situations, such as choosing a mobile phone package or shopping online, as the basis to develop consumer skills, knowledge and confidence.
The OFT developed the toolkit with LLU+ at London South Bank University, one of the UK's leading experts in literacy, numeracy and language. It is designed for use by teachers in further education settings including colleges, community education and offender learning to support learners on literacy and numeracy courses.

'Skilled to go' is a flexible learning resource which is easy to use and can be incorporated into existing class material or used on its own. The activities can be customised according to learner ability and the teachers' notes for each module include information on consumer rights so that teachers can feel confident in delivering the content.

'Skilled to go' currently has three modules: Buying and selling, Technology, and Utilities, and is available in variations for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to reflect the legal differences in each of the countries as well as relevant geographic examples and websites.

The launch follows a successful trial of the toolkit at City and Islington College in London and Glasgow College of Nautical Studies. The OFT will be reviewing and updating the toolkit regularly to keep the content up to date.

Sam Brew, OFT Consumer Education Manager, said:

'Signing up to a new mobile phone package or switching energy supplier, for example, can be daunting tasks. Buyers have to weigh up a whole range of options against their own needs, check the small print and know their rights if something goes wrong.

'One of the OFT's most important tasks is to help consumers deal effectively with businesses and make informed buying decisions, both so that they get a good deal, and to ensure that markets across the UK function efficiently. This first step into the education sector reflects our desire to find new ways to help build consumers' skills, especially amongst more vulnerable groups, whether they are aged 16 or 80.'

During June and July the OFT and LLU+ will be running free workshops in London, Manchester, Cardiff, and Glasgow to introduce teachers to the toolkit. Further details can be found on the OFT website:


1. Photographs of the toolkit pilot and interviews are available. For more details contact the OFT press office.

2. To book a place at one of the free workshop events, contact Trevor Jones at LLU+ on 0207 7815 6260 or Dates and locations:
* Wednesday 25 June, Palace Hotel, Oxford Road, Manchester
* Monday 30 June, Cardiff Marriott Hotel, Mill Lane, Cardiff
* Tuesday 1 July, LLU+ London South Bank University, London
* Wednesday 2 July, LLU+ London South Bank University, London
* Friday 4 July, Radisson SAS Hotel, Argyle Street, Glasgow

3. 'Skilled to go' was piloted in two further education colleges during January to March 2008. Staff and students on literacy, numeracy and ESOL courses at Glasgow College of Nautical Studies in Glasgow and at City and Islington College in London trialed the materials and gave their suggestions for how the content could be improved. LLU+ and OFT revised 'Skilled to go' for the launch, taking on board this feedback. A full evaluation report of the pilot project will be available later in summer 2008.

4. The OFT's consumer education work supports people in becoming more confident, assertive consumers who can help to promote competitive markets by demanding high standards from business. OFT has developed Skilled to go to support the OFT's consumer education strategy, which aims to give consumers the skills and knowledge to function confidently, effectively and responsibly when buying goods and services.

5. LLU+ at South Bank University is a national consultancy and professional development centre for staff working in the areas of literacy, numeracy, dyslexia, family learning and English for Speakers of Other Languages.

PUBLIC enquiries: 0845 7224499
OFT reports and consumer information leaflets are available free from:

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