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Language, Literacy and Numeracy

To compete and prosper in the changing global economy New Zealand requires a more skilled workforce. Low workforce literacy limits the ability of New Zealanders to increase productivity, innovate, and to meet changing customer and market demands.

Workforce literacy describes the skills needed for effective performance in today’s workplaces including: speaking, listening, numeracy, using technology, reading, writing, problem solving, and critical thinking.

The ways workplaces and jobs are organised is changing quickly. New technologies, flatter organisational structures and increasing health and safety regulations are some of the factors driving up literacy, numeracy and language requirements for more and more jobs.

A 2006 adult literacy and life skills survey found that 1.1 million New Zealanders (43% of adults aged 16 to 65) have literacy skills below those needed to participate fully in a knowledge society. Over 80% (800,000) of those people are in the workforce.

Literacy, language and numeracy have been identified as priorities by Government for the past five years. However, there is still a need for a continued increase in the numbers of employees accessing literacy development.

Further action is needed to raise understanding and increase participation in literacy development that meets the needs of the workforce and industry. Significant investments are needed to ensure that workforces are skilled enough to support the economic growth and competitive success of their businesses.

Industry training organisations are focusing on building the literacy skills of their workforces as a precursor to developing skills and gaining qualifications. ITOs are working in partnership with business organisations, unions, providers and community agencies to tackle literacy problems in the adult working population for the benefit of individuals, firms and wider industries.

ITOs are involved in projects which identify and define the literacy skills needed for particular trades; developing programmes that embed literacy into workplaces and qualifications; and working with their industries to focus on literacy, numeracy and communication.


Language, Literacy and Numeracy Case Studies

Embedded Literacy - Careerforce ITO

Plumbing, Gasfitting, Drainlaying and Roofing ITO

ATTTO Literacy Project for Aviation Ramp Operators

All case studies are published in Skilling New Zealand: ITO Leadership in Action