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June 24, 2016 at 04:30 pm

Extending workplace literacy funding to industry training is an essential economic and social investment for New Zealand, says the Industry Training Federation.

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce confirmed today the government's additional investment in workplace literacy in Budget 2016 will be extended to industry trainees working towards Level 1 and 2 qualifications.

“We are delighted the industry training sector can make more of a difference to our skilled workforce by improving adult literacy in workplaces across the country,” says ITF Chief Executive Josh Williams.

Every day, 140,000 industry trainees and apprentices are learning on the job across a great number of New Zealand industries. For some, access to specialist literacy support will be the key that unlocks their success, in terms of both educational achievement and workplace productivity.

“New Zealand has a big literacy challenge and it’s good to see the government facing that challenge. Literacy issues must be addressed at all levels of the system, whether someone is five or fifty-five," Mr Williams says.

"Literacy is the foundation for all other skills. Improving literacy will improve productivity, safety and competence in the workplace, and deliver far-reaching economic benefits. It will also improve the quality of life for many New Zealanders, including family life and further educational success."

New Zealand’s commitment to workplace literacy is welcomed, but so far is just scratching the surface of a national issue. New OECD data to be released later this month will show us where New Zealand is at and how far we’ve got to go.

"While targeting this support to foundation level learners makes sense, we also see literacy issues holding people back from career steps into supervision and management, where we can really move the needle on productivity.” Mr Williams says.

The ITF is working in partnership with the Tertiary Education Commission to manage the Skills Highway programme, which helps businesses access support, resources, and the right literacy and numeracy programmes for their workers.