Workforce literacy and numeracy urgently needs to be improved in New Zealand as over a million people don’t have the skills they need to participate fully in working life, Business NZ CEO Kirk Hope says.
The Industry Training Federation (ITF), Business New Zealand, English Language Partners, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions – Te Kauae Kaimahi (NZCTU), and Literacy Aotearoa have released the workforce literacy call to action: “Stepping Up to Better Working Lives”.
“Stepping Up to Better Working Lives” calls for increased government funding, greater awareness, collaboration and prioritisation of adult literacy needs.
The report shows that New Zealand’s adult literacy and numeracy rates have changed little from 2006 results.
“While this is not a new need, improving the literacy and numeracy skills of the workforce is growing in importance as sectors become digitised and automated,” Mr Hope says.
Employment forecasts show New Zealand’s growth areas will be the industries with the lowest literacy levels – including construction, hospitality, wholesale and retail trade, and business service industries.
“Poor literacy and numeracy skills are reflected in risks, errors, and accidents in the workplace, contributing to low productivity which is a major issue for employers.”
The adult literacy challenge must be addressed in order to build a skilled and productive workforce and enhance social and economic inclusiveness.
“Literacy and numeracy skills are important for meaningful work and life – and this increasingly extends to digital skills.”
The Workplace Literacy Fund and the Skills Highway Initiative are great examples of Government and businesses working together to lift the basic skills of the workforce, with tangible benefits for employers, their workplaces, and their staff.
“With these skills people can retain meaningful work, bolstering the social and financial wellbeing of their whole family.
“A continuing commitment to improving the literacy and numeracy of New Zealanders will always be a sound investment, with dividends that will be seen through an increasingly skilled and productive workforce, improving the performance of business and the economy,” Mr Hope says.