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Literacy and Numeracy

Literacy and numeracy are significant issues for many New Zealand workplaces.

Workplace literacy and numeracy is about a whole range of skills, not simply whether people can read or write. It is about how well they can do these things, their communication skills, how well people work in teams, and whether firms can introduce new technology and approaches.

The 2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALL) survey showed that 1.1 million New Zealanders (43% of the adults aged 16 to 65) have literacy skills below those needed to participate fully in a knowledge society. Over 80% (or around 800,000) of those people are in the workforce.

Literacy and numeracy skill issues reveal themselves in lower productivity, higher error rates, inability to understand and follow business procedures, and can be a key barrier to learning new skills and thus addressing skill and labour shortages and our aging workforces.

A key driver of these issues is ever increasing demands for literacy and numeracy skills in the workplace, through greater computerisation, higher customer demands, a greater need for team work, and the demand for higher productivity.

Improving literacy in the New Zealand workforce is a priority for ITOs, business organisations, unions and the government. A number of ITOs have been involved in workplace literacy for some time and have developed a range of effective approaches in response to the literacy needs of their industries.Key Steps forward for Workforce Literacy

In July 2007, in partnership with Business NZ, the NZCTU and Workbase (the national centre for workplace literacy and numeracy), the ITF produced a blueprint for addressing workforce literacy issues: Key Steps Forward for Workforce Literacy (2046KB)

Initiatives from that include the ITO Literacy and Numeracy Good Practice Project, which was funded by the Tertiary Education Commission.  This project researched, informed, and developed good practice guidelines, tools, and resources to support ITOs to embed literacy and numeracy into industry training.