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Workplace Literacy and Numeracy Matters!

May 25, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 132

What is Workplace Literacy and Numeracy?

Workplace Literacy and Numeracy involves not just reading and writing, but also listening and speaking (communication skills), critical thinking, problem solving, and sometimes digital literacy. Workplace literacy and numeracy aims to align the programme content with the goals, vision and values of the company, while meeting the needs of the learners. It can be taught in context of writing accident report forms, reading and understanding policies, participating in meetings - to name a few.

The effects of low literacy and numeracy

This is not just a New Zealand issue, it is a global problem. The impact of low literacy in the workplace and the economy as a whole, is staggering. Low literacy levels result in low productivity, a high rate of errors, and lower profits. Many employees do not have the skills to do their jobs competently and safely. They cannot read and understand policies and procedures that are important to their role, health and safety. They are not productive workers. They often do not have sufficient communication skills to be able to understand instructions properly and be able to communicate effectively with their colleagues and managers; they lack confidence and therefore are not likely to speak up when necessary.

What are we doing about low literacy levels?

The NZ government is committed to upskilling the literacy levels of NZ employees, and as a result has provided funding, through the Workplace Literacy Fund to enable employers, tertiary institutions, ITO's (Industry Training Organisations) and PTE's (Private Training Enterprises) to access funding.

These programmes are very successful because:

  • The programme content and resources are very relevant to the learners - their jobs and their home and community life.
  • Learners are able to transfer their learning immediately to the workplace
  • Small group training is facilitated by qualified tutors
  • Tutors provide interactive learning, and the learners are engaged.
  • The programme is supported by management.

Teaching literacy is very rewarding - changes in learners can be life changing. I've seen amazing progress in some of the staff I've taught, apart from the obvious improvements that are seen in their assessments. The best thing is to see their confidence grow - often they are inspired to do further learning, having realised that they can do it! Managers tell me that they can see results in their workplace performance, staff that weren't doing well previously are now flourishing and making a real contribution, and I hear great stories from the learners - so proud of what they can now do!

Literacy and numeracy facts

In 2006, New Zealand and other countries participated in the international Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALL) and the results indicated that 1.1 million New Zealanders (43 percent of the adults aged 16 and 65) have literacy and numeracy skills below those needed to participate fully in a knowledge society (over 80 percent of these people are in work).

What next?

We need more of these programmes in the workplace - improving the literacy of our employees will improve the productivity in our companies, and improve our economy as a whole. A win/win situation. Does your organisation run workplace literacy and numeracy programmes? For more information, go to:

Michelle Childs is a life-long learner and adult educator specialising in workplace literacy, software training, elearning design and delivery. Her Interests are personal and professional development, social media, mountain biking, walking, the outdoors and health and fitness. If you like her articles, see her blog at

Source: EzineArticles
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Article Tags:

Workplace Literacy


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Literacy And Numeracy For Adults

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