Championing Workplace Literacy

While the foundation skills of literacy and numeracy tend to be taken for granted in an advanced economy such as Australia’s, the picture emerging from our workplaces is decidedly different. 

Ai Group research surveying more than 400 companies across the manufacturing, construction, services and mining sectors reveals that 93 per cent of surveyed employers experience the impact of low levels of literacy and numeracy in their workforce.  

It’s a stunning statistic – and one Ai Group has long been focused on. Our National Workforce Literacy Project in 2012, for example, came in response to findings that only 8% of employers believed they had adequate capacity to address literacy and numeracy shortfalls in their workplaces. 

These same employers have told us that the most significant effects of these shortfalls come in the form of inadequate completion of workplace documents or reports; time wasting; and material wastage. Put simply, it’s a skills gap that drains productivity.

Now, Ai Group is supporting a network of employer champions of workforce literacy and numeracy. Covering a number of different industry areas including manufacturing, utilities, aged care, construction and disability servicesthe champions share positive outcomes from their organisations and use networking and public speaking opportunities to encourage other employers to take action to address foundation skills. 

Brief case studies of the seven appointed workplace champions can be found here. 

One of the champions is Anthony Kittel, CEO and Managing Director of Redarc in South Australia, who says the wide range of literacy and numeracy training provided by Redarc in recent years has helped provide a platform for annual growth of 30 per cent.

“Confidence is a key benefit,” Anthony says. There is more active participation in team meetings, increased understanding of business processes and greater contribution to quality improvement. There is also improved communication within the teams and with the team leaders, increased skills in completing workplace documentation, increased confidence in the use of ICT technology, both at work and at home, and an ability to build on current knowledge of skills and transfer the learning from the various training programs.” 

Has your workplace experienced literacy and numeracy problems? Have you tried any training programs to address this? Share your thoughts with us below.  

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Michael Taylor is Ai Group’s National Policy and Projects Manager, Education and Training. He is responsible for a number of national projects across workplace literacy and numeracy, skills, and the management of a mature age workforce. Michael also contributes to policy formulation across a wide spectrum of education, training and skills.

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