ILLITERACY - COSTLY FOR BUSINESS

It is impossible to overstate the important of literacy in a business.

Research by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that 46% of adult Australians have insufficient literacy "to cope with the complex demands of Australian society". This includes reading a newspaper, or a restaurant menu, or following a recipe or understanding directions on a medicine bottle.

If you have expert literacy - meaning you can read and comprehend complex text, laden with nuance and subtlety, then you are one-fifth of the population. Just 21% of Australians have "good" literacy.

In the middle is a large group of 30-35% who can comprehend relatively simple text.

These numbers entirely explain the statistic that 60-70% of Australians would rather take information by video, rather than by reading.

Vocational Literacy

Who is Vocational Literacy? Nearly every school in Australia uses our material as part of their reading programmes. Approximately 500,000 children and adults used our program (Fantastic Phonics) in 2013. We have been refining our reading programs for 15 years - more than 3 million downloads in that time

Our program has been intensely researched USAID and Worldbank, using prestigious researchers like "Research Triangle Institute" (RTI.org). Our programs are is in the global EGRA project (Early Grade Reading project). Countries from Fiji to Liberia to Rwanda use the program in all their schools.

Teenagers and Adults
We work with teenagers and adults who need improved reading skills to offer better productivity and workplace performance. We work throughout Australia, particularly with Indigenous and remote communities, to initiate and support a literacy program. Our programs are used in Australian prisons, in remote Indigenous schools and communities.

The Business Challenge of Literacy
Every year,approximately 35% of students leave school, almost completely illiterate. This is a widely know fact. Most of these children migrate into low paying employment, or unemployment. In addition, every year we take 200,000 migrants from non-English background.

If you are an employer in a blue-collar or construction or hospitality or retail or healthcare or transport or agriculture or any industry - there will be employees who struggle with reading because they learnt to read under the now discredited "whole language" approach. Any employee who learnt to read between 1970 and 2005 will have been taught using a discredited system.

This is very important to understand - until 1970 phonics was used in schools, but was replaced by a system called "whole language". This system has fallen into disrepute and been replaced again by phonics.

Any employee who left school in the last 35 years will typically struggle with their reading. The only solution is to return to basics and "re-teach" reading, using phonics to "sound out" and decode text. This is not as difficult as it might sound, because adults can be more adaptive, have more incentive, and a larger vocabulary.

That's your business challenge

Productivity

We know Australia's productivity is falling, because economics statistics reveal the drop - very accurately. Can you imagine a more adverse influence on productivity than the inability to read?

Yet we tolerate huge gaps in our literate workforce. In days gone past, this may have gone unnoticed, but in modern Australia, with the emphasis on "skills", it is impossible to develop a skilled workforce which is not literate.

Safety

Literacy is imperative for safety. Today, all employees are expected to read and sign "Safe Work Documents" (SWMS). Given the concentration of non-readers in the more dangerous, more manual jobs, it is likely that SWMS are having a reduced effect. But the issue is far greater.

If it can be shown that a worker could not read, comprehend or recall a safety document, it exposes your management to diligence litigation, lost days and higher insurance.

Training

Training is expensive. If your workforce cannot read, it means that your training programs are crippled. Without the ability to read and properly comprehend your documents, your employees will find it difficult to understand how your business runs. It is impossible to introduce complex concepts, because the language and thought processing of your employees are not capable.

Core words and Common Words

The Dolch list is a collection of 220 "core words" which allow accurate reading of 50% - 70% of English text. Our program, Fantastic Phonics, is a compendium of 60 story-books which steps through each of the Phonic "sounds" and conventions (there are 48 phonic "sounds"). It is gently graded, suitable for children, teenagers and adults, and is found in almost every Australian school and reading program.

Fantastic Phonics is built around the 220 core words - these words form the building blocks of English.

In addition there is a list of 500 Common Words which are in everyday use. In conjunction with the Core Words, these Common Words provide accurate comprehension of approximately 90% of English text.

Your Business Documents

Not every person who writes a document is "a writer".

While we can help teach your workforce to read, your documents must play their part in providing text which can be decoded using phonics, and where clumsiness has been fixed. We can provide assistance with preparation and editing of your documents to ensure that the document is decodable and unambiguous.

This is not just the text itself, but the visual layout. For example, large paragraphs are a deterrent and hinder comprehension. Frequent headines and sub-headlines aid scanning and give an indication what the paragraphs is about.

We can provide assistance with your crucial workforce documents.

You don't need a teacher

Our programs are designed for self teaching or assisted teaching. The programs are downloaded by people in Africa, Asia, in China and Eastern Europe, especially Russia.

The program can be printed onto standard office paper (it is back and white for this purpose) or viewed in colour on screen.