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MEDIA RELEASE: Literacy and numeracy skills crucial for business

04 December 2007

Survey results released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicate that Australian business is likely to be held back by inadequate literacy and problem solving skills in the workforce. 
 
The Australian Literacy and Lifeskills Survey (ALLS), conducted by the ABS in 2006, assessed the literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills of Australians aged 15-74. The initial results make for sobering reading according to Sharon Coates (CEO of Innovation and Business Skills Australia).
 
Speaking on behalf of Australia’s 10 Industry Skills Councils, Ms Coates said that the literacy and numeracy skills of workers were critical for tackling many current industry challenges.
 
“Businesses need an innovative workforce with excellent communication and thinking skills to capitalise on rapid technological change and to face the challenges of global competition,” Ms Coates said.
 
"But the survey reveals that some 70 per cent of Australia’s adult population (10.6 million people) have poor or very poor problem solving skills and that 46 per cent of adults could be expected to have difficulty using the printed materials encountered in daily life.
 
“People with skills at this level will need assistance to understand a lot of written communication in the workplace, they are likely to be challenged or confronted by formal training environments and may be unable to handle workplace change or unexpected problems,” Ms Coates said.
 
An OECD comparison of fourteen countries has estimated that a 1 per cent increase in a nation’s average adult literacy levels eventually leads to a 2.5 per cent increase in labour productivity and a 1.5% increase in GDP per capita.
 
 
Click on THIS LINK to see full statement - ‘Australian literacy levels – implications for industry 
ABS Report: Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey, Summary Results, Australia available from ABS website: www.abs.gov.au 
Comment: Sharon Coates – 03 9815 7000
         Jeanette Allen, CEO, Service Skills Australia – 02 8243 1200
 
Contact:   Anita Roberts, ISC WELL Network Facilitator – 0402 349 557
For more information go to http://www.abs.gov.au/

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