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Workplace Literacy & Numeracy

Research findings of the Adult Literacy and Numeracy Life Skills (ALL) Survey 2006 have definite implications for employers, in particular in relation to productivity and learning levels.
Examination of literacy and numeracy practices undertaken at work included consideration of:
  • Financial literacy and numeracy – working with bills, invoices and prices
  • Intensive literacy – reading and writing letters, emails, reports and manuals
  • Practical literacy and numeracy – reading diagrams and directions, writing directions, measuring and estimating size and weight, and using numbers for record keeping.
The 2006 ALL survey highlighted the following:
  • Workers with low literacy and numeracy skills can be found in most industries and occupations in New Zealand.
  • Industries with a larger proportion of workers with low literacy skills include agriculture, manufacturing, transport, retail trade and accommodation and food services

    Around 40 percent of people in employment have literacy and numeracy skills below the level needed to meet the ever-increasing literacy and numeracy demands of today’s workplace. In particular this pertains to  document literacy – defined as the ability to read discontinuous texts such as charts, diagrams, forms, tables.
  • Research findings highlighted a gender difference in relation to numeracy literacy, with just over 47% of males and 57% of females displaying low levels of numeracy
  • People do not necessarily have a good sense of their own literacy and numeracy skill levels; for example, 73% of people with low or very low assessed numeracy rated themselves as being good with numbers and calculations.

  • It is estimated that about 9 percent of people in employment have low literacy but high frequency literacy and numeracy job practices – in other words their skills fall short of what may be needed for their jobs.
  • A further 33 percent have either low literacy but medium frequency job practices or medium literacy but high frequency job practices meaning that this group may have difficulty performing some aspects of their jobs.

What Others Say

“If I see a new book, I now feel confident enough to buy it and sit down and read it. Whereas before I couldn't read it, let alone pronounce the words, I now have a love and passion to discover new words ... I don't give up. Reading is the key knowledge to everything"   Michael             

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