Literacy and numeracy letting businesses down

The Australian Industry Group says their survey revealing only 50% of Australians have requisite literacy and numeracy skills to operate at work is of grave concern

Poor literacy and numeracy skills are plaguing Australian employers to the point where it is affecting businesses, a report has revealed.

International research has found less than half of Australians, just 44%, have literacy skills below a level considered to be the minimum to operate effectively at work and in society.

Just 55% of Australians had numeracy skills above that level.

A survey of 300 Australian businesses found those results were causing teamwork and communication frustrations as well as poor completion of workplace documents and wastage.

The Australian Industry Group says the results of their survey indicate a deepening concern about foundation skills and a drag on national productivity.

‘Occupations with highly-educated workers are expanding much more rapidly than other occupations,’ Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said on Monday.

‘So the mastery of literacy and numeracy is increasingly more important to meet the challenges of this evolving economy.’

The Ai Group has already made a number of recommendations but says more needs doing, including implementing a new foundation skills strategy to build workplace skills, developing employer networks and expanding scholarship programs to boost the number of qualified language, literacy and numeracy teachers.

‘We need a renewed focus on literacy and numeracy skills to deal with the way the economy is changing,’ Mr Willox said.

He also called on government support to develop a new national program to tackle these issues.