WORKERS have such poor literacy and numeracy skills they can’t do simple sums, type on a computer or give clear directions in a worrying trend employers have revealed is hampering their business.
The problem has been exposed by an Australian Industry Group study that found staff’s English and maths skills are so bad hardly a workplace in the country is unaffected.
The report, released today, found nine out of 10 bosses complain they have staff who can’t calculate orders, prepare work riddled with errors or give confusing directions.
AI Group chief executive Innes Willox said the results indicated a “deepening concern about the level of foundation skills in the workforce and a continuing drag on the nation’s productivity”.
He called on the Turnbull Government to tackle the problem as the need for highly educated workers became more crucial, with high-skilled occupations growing faster than low-skilled work.
It follows an international report showing 44 per cent of Australians have literacy proficiency below a level set as the minimum to operate effectively in the workplace and society.
Numeracy was worse, with 55 per cent below the proficient level, the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies found.
Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the Government realised it must arrest our slide down international comparison tables for mathematics and literacy.
“We must embrace the digital age, diversify our economy and upskill Australians to meet the jobs of the 21st century,” Senator Birmingham said.
“Key to the success of this and future generations of young Australians is in having an excellent grasp of literacy and numeracy.”
He said the Government was improving teacher standards and pushing maths and science in schools.
“Mistakes are costly and business is saying too many mistakes are being made,” he said.