Skill development for workers with low literacy and numeracy levels
Question 1: Write a brief overview of the issue and describe the problems and challenges arising from the issue
In Australia, the prevalence of employees who have low numeracy and literacy skills is high, and it depends on the sector or industry. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (2012) revealed that about 7million of workers in Australia had literacy problems, below the minimum expected for normal work functions. Also, 7.9 million had problems with numeracy skills, meaning that such workers keep holding Australia back. This means that most of the occupations or fields have got workers with low skills in numeracy and literacy. In order to ensure that such workers continue to enhance their skills, the involved stakeholders must work together to find the best methods that can be used to offer appropriate training. In most cases, these employees usually have a low level education.
Most people who have low numeracy and literacy skills work in occupations such as agriculture and food services. Waddoups (2011) asserts that their work usually does not involve manipulation of numbers, reading and writing. Their work mostly involves manual jobs such as lifting machinery and offering personal services.
There are several challenges that arise from the issue of workers having low numeracy and literacy skills. For example, most of the workers who have low skills in numeracy and literacy have lower chances of participating in further education as compared to those who have higher skills (Black and Yasukawa 2011). The tendency is because of the weak foundation that such workers have in training and education. The other challenge related to the issue is that workers with low numeracy and literacy skills make many mistakes including wastages, wrong documentations and increased accidents and mistakes (Waddoups 2011). These workers do not view their work in terms of quality, and they work in the manner in which they see fit even if it is wrong. Through these problems, the government faces the challenge of ensuring that economic activities are taken up cautiously for the growth of Australian economy. This is because lack of numeracy and literacy skills and the subsequent low quality of work in businesses and industries affects the country negatively (Black and Yasukawa 2011). It leads to low levels of productions thus deteriorating the economic status of the region.
Question 2: Discuss the government’s actions in addressing the issue
According to Media Net Press Release Wire (2012), the government has undertaken several actions to address the issue of low numeracy and literacy skills in Australia. The first action is the integrated support of employers in Australia through a project called Skills Connect. The government funds the program and ensures employers have access to the Australian government in terms of information and training; thereby building a productive industrial region. The government also has a fund called the National Workforce Development Fund meant to assist industries to assess their needs and find the most appropriate ways of training existing and new employees in the wanting areas (Waddoups 2011).
Furthermore, the Australian government offers accredited training through a workplace training program known as the Workplace English language and Literacy program. This program assists employers to find an alternative and affordable training program for their workers who suffer from numeracy and literacy problems at work (National Centre for Vocational Education 2011). This ensures that businesses are supported so as to become productive. Also, through a skills-recognition program known as Investing in Experience, the government funds employers up to $4400, meant to assist the mature employees to gain numeracy and literacy skills. The employers have to assess their employees so as to identify the weak areas and then apply for grants from the government through this project.
According to According to Media Net Press Release Wire (2012), the government plans to position all employers as key agents for change in Australia. The Australian government has realized that employers should be part of the National Foundation Skills Strategy because they have the interest of their workers at heart. Therefore, they should participate in all the implementation of literacy and numeracy programs. With the new National Workforce and Productivity Agency, the government plans to re-focus the direction of issues regarding low literacy and numeracy levels by enabling businesses to enforce workplace developments. This policy is meant to work together with other literacy and numeracy projects so as to offer efficient services.
The government also plans to emphasize on development of intensive learning programs. This program should be created according to the diversity of the workforce in a business. According to Black & Yasukawa (2011), in order to make the intensive program successful, the training should be divided into small groups of about 10 people while ensuring that the Australian Core Skills Framework is used as a diagnostic tool for measuring outcomes upon completion of each training session. Also, the emphasis will extend to foundation training for each and every new employee. This will ensure that every employee gets a foundation of numeracy and literacy skills to ensure that no one is left out.
The government understands the importance of initiating Return on Investment measures for any organizational training. Return on Investment indicators are meant to ensure that both the employer and employee are ready to get involved and plan for the project (Black 2011). The measures to be checked include productivity, quality, safety, compliance, communication and promotion. These aspects are meant to assess how effective any employee training is and how efficiently it is carried out. This is important for the government because it plans to invest heavily in eradicating the issue of low numeracy and literacy amongst Australian workers.
The other vital action that the government plans to use in addressing the issue is advocating for the incorporation of the Australian Core Skills Framework Tools in the training programs for the various workplaces in the country (Black and Yasukawa 2011. The Australian Core skills framework is a government initiative to offer employers a tool for assessing the employees’ levels of literacy and numeracy before and after the training. This pre and post assessment should provide the program outcomes for the participants of the training. Also, the Australian Core Skills Framework should act like a guide for employers when learning about skills complexities through an employer guide.
The other action that the government is using to address the issue is raising the capacity of enterprises and expanding the Vocational and Educational Training (VET) workforce (Black 2011). This is because the government has discovered that most enterprises do not have a capacity large enough for facilitating effective employee training and development programs. Therefore, it plans to educate the employers regarding issues such as information access, active participation by managers and the use of trained employees to mentor the ones who need training. VET workforce should be flexible enough to enable employees to participate in development and access training appropriately.
AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS ISSUES REPORT ON LABOUR FORCE 2012, Gov Australia Live (Australia), 13 September, NewsBank, EBSCOhost, viewed 25 September 2012.
Black, S 2011, Investigating the crisis: production workers? literacy and numeracy practices. University of Technology Sidney. Available at:
Black, S & Yasukawa, K 2011, 'A tale of two councils: Alternative discourses on the 'literacy crisis' in Australian workplaces', International Journal Of Training Research, 9, 3, p. 218, Publisher Provided Full Text Searching File, EBSCOhost, viewed 25 September 2012.
MediaNet Press Release Wire: Media Release: Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science', 2012, MediaNet Press Release Wire (Australia), 28 August, NewsBank, EBSCOhost, viewed 25 September 2012.
National Centre for Vocational Education, R 2011, 'Building the Foundations: Outcomes from the Adult Language, Literacy and Numeracy Search Conference. Discussion Paper', National Centre For Vocational Education Research (NCVER), ERIC, EBSCOhost, viewed 25 September 2012.
Waddoups, CC 2011, 'Firm Size and Work-Related Training: New Evidence on Incidence, Intensity, and Training Type from Australia', Journal Of Labor Research, 32, 4, pp. 390-413, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 25 September 2012.