National Workforce Literacy Project

The Australian Industry Group, in its Government funded research, showed that approximately 75% of businesses report significant issues with workplace literacy and numeracy.

Funded by the Australian Government, research by the Australian Industry Group (which represents employer organisations) mapped the extent of workplace illiteracy. A total of 338 companies across Australia, comprising 56,000 employees and annual turnover of $36.4 billion, responded to the survey. Download the report here

National Workforce Literacy Project Report
Key findings

■ More than 75% of respondents reported that their business was affected by low levels of literacy and numeracy.
■ Survey respondents reported that labourers and process workers were the occupational group most affected by low levels of literacy and numeracy -45% of respondents considered that labourers were affected.
■ Respondents reported a wide range of impacts resulting from a lack of literacy and numeracy
skills, most frequently cited were: poor completion of workplace documents and time-wasting
through repeated work.
■ Respondents saw a role for government, employers, education authorities and individuals in
improving workforce literacy and numeracy skills -38% think employers have a role.
■ Only 8% of respondents reported that they had adequate capacity to assist the improvement of literacy and numeracy skills - the problem is most acute for small business, of which 28% report that they have no capacity for this task.
■ Internal company training was the most common measure used by respondents to try to improve literacy and numeracy skills - tried by 29% of respondents.
■ Respondents identified many different measures that they considered effective for addressing
literacy and numeracy needs - there was not a clear preference for one particular measure but
workplace based approaches were generally more favoured.

illiteracy effects on productivity