PCF5: Literacy - Fundamental to economic development

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Literacy - Fundamental to economic development


by Joy Mylek

Whilst New Zealand is considered to be a developed country, there remain issues of illiteracy, workplace literacy, and equal opportunity which need addressing. A quarter of New Zealand workforce were born outside of New Zealand and many have English as a second language.

Low levels of skills in speaking, listening, maths, reading, writing, problem solving and using technology limit productivity growth both nationally and globally. Whilst it is possible to raise literacy levels during secondary schooling, the current workforce cannot return to full time education to make up the deficit. The Government has acknowledged this problem and has developed a national policy to address it, hence the role of ODL in raising workforce literacy is critical. The report on Workforce Literacy indicates that only an estimated 2% of employees are currently able to access literacy development.

Much of the literature endorses the view that the best way to improve literacy in adults is to do so in the context of their everyday lives in order to make it meaningful. This context for the workforce is their place of work.

This paper describes how a national ODL provider addressed the need for foundation skills through an innovative programme philosophy combining ODL materials with mentoring. Generic work and personal skills development has led to increased confidence, literacy and productivity in the workforce. Mentoring and interactive DVD support overcomes the apparent contradiction inherent in teaching literacy through ODL.

Using a mix of delivery modes and assessment methods this programme-type is easily scalable for larger numbers and for different cultures due to its modular structure.

Results of work to date on the generic skills programme and literacy programme development are discussed and estimates of their impact on a low level literacy workforce are developed.

Road Works.svg Work in progress, expect frequent changes. Help and feedback is welcome. See discussion page. Road Works.svg