Employers fear impact of staff reading and writing skills

by 17 May 2010

More than 75 per cent of employers believe their business is affected by low levels of literacy and numeracy among staff.

According to a new report by the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), literacy and numeracy shortfalls have emerged as a major issue for employers as they evaluate their skills base against opportunities presented by the improving economy.

The National Workforce Literacy Projectsurvey revealed that 45 per cent of employers nominated labourers and process workers as the occupational group most affected by low levels of literacy and numeracy.

All occupational categories were impacted by inadequate levels of literacy and numeracy including managers, clerical and administrative workers, engineers, technicians, apprentices and other professionals.

Heather Rideout, chief executive of the Ai Group, said the consequences of inadequate literacy and numeracy are significant both in terms of the number and depth.

Poor completion of workplace documents and time wasting through repeated work were the most reported impacts at over 40 per cent.

She said there was a long list of other important consequences including ineffective work teams, materials wastage, ineffective training, financial miscalculations, workplace injuries and unsafe work practices and recruitment difficulties.

“It is clear that inadequate levels of workplace literacy and numeracy are having negative impacts on productivity and workplace safety,” said Rideout

“The findings of this report are most disturbing and the time for action is now. Ai Group is assisting directly through a current project with a number of companies to trial a range of solutions. We are confident that this will contribute to the search for the way forward in this most fundamental of challenges.”


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