The World According to Cachia

Australian adults return good results in literacy and numeracy skills report

John Cachia - Monday, July 28, 2014

In a report compiled by the Productivity Commission, Literacy and Numeracy Skills and Labour Market Outcomes in Australia - Australian Productivity Commission Australian adults, when compared with other countries in the OECD, have been rated as being above average in literacy skills; and average when it comes to numeracy.

When considering numeracy and literacy skills, we can see a link to a person’s wellbeing; as having good skills in these areas will clearly ensure a person’s ability to contribute effectively to society (and of course) the workforce. Suffice to say, those with higher numeracy and literacy skills, tend to be more productive; happier, healthier and more socially engaged.

When considering the above from an employer’s perspective; having employees whose skills are at a higher level suggested they will achieve more from training and education. This course means that the employee works better and provides better returns (which of course benefit both the employer and the employee).

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), in a report released in September 2013, states that of people employed, 60% had literacy skills at ‘level 3’ or above, and 51% had numeracy skills at a similar level.

In contrast, 14% of Australian adults have low literacy skills. In broad terms an employee at this level has the ‘ability to apply common sense understanding to carry out simple one or two-step instruction, thus having sufficient skills to work with regular situations having only occasional or no variables’.

It is recognised that literacy and numeracy skills vary across different groups of people, for example; people from a non-English speaking background have lower literacy and numeracy skills than most others; older Australians (55-74yrs) have lower numeracy and literacy skills than those younger, and those better educated have higher literacy and numeracy skills.

From this we can see a strong correlation between numeracy and literacy skills and labour market outcomes (i.e. employment and wages).

It is important to appreciate that good numeracy and literacy skills influence productivity, and that they allow/ensure individuals can and do develop other skills. We see that the way we do business keeps changing and as such we as individuals are required to be more innovative and adaptive in an effort to ensure we are able to perform not only effectively, but to perform at higher levels!

Whilst the basics that are learnt at school at school provide us with the foundation, we MUST continue to develop our skills thus we can better contribute to a more productive workforce.

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