January is traditionally a very slow news month and thus the same rota of stories are trotted out annually this time of year. Quelle Horreur! Hot Cross Buns are available for sale, High Achievers gain early acceptance into the University, Players at the Australian Open face 40+ degree heat and Australia’s literacy levels are at an all time low.

Today the Australian Industry Group released a Report advising that 93% of business are negatively impacted by staff unable to do simple sums or use a computer.  In other words, Australians don’t have the fundamental skills to engage in a digital future.

According to AIG, “Of the 300 employers surveyed, poor completion of workplace documents was the greatest frustration as a result of low literacy and numeracy- reported by 42% of employers, material errors and wastage (32%) and teamwork and communication problems (28%).

This supports recent international data – Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) – which found 44% of Australians have literacy proficiency skills levels below level 3 – considered to be the minimum to operate effectively in the workplace and society.  Worse still was Australia’s ranking in regards to numeracy proficiency, with 55% of adults below level 3″.

Three hundred business is hardly a representative sample but we do admire the organisation’s plug for additional funding, “we do need from federal and state governments a national foundation skills strategy and that we need to put more funding into the training of language, literacy and numeracy teachers, those who can go into the workplaces to assist employees, hone and develop their skills“.

No, trying to rectify poor literacy in the workplace is a little too late.  Resources need to pumped in at primary school level.  Nice try though.