Foundation Skills Must Be Supported

In her address to the Australian Workplace Practitioners’ Network (AWPN) National Conference 2015 today Sharon Bird, Shadow Minister for Vocational Education, stressed the importance of language, literacy and numeracy and foundation skills in general:


“Young people who do not complete Year 12 or a vocational qualification, displaced workers and new arrivals often lack basic literacy, numeracy and employability skills, locking them out of the jobs market. Better access to training in foundation skills is critical for reducing unemployment amongst the most disadvantaged Australians. Australia’s $1.6 trillion economy simply cannot afford to have so many people not being equipped with basic skills”.


“In their first Budget, the Abbott Government demonstrated their inability to comprehend the importance of adult learning by abolishing programs such as the National Workforce Development Program, Workplace English Language Literacy Program.  They went further in MYEFO in December making cuts and slashing funding to the Skills for Education and Employment program,” Sharon Bird said.


“The sector’s annual gathering of experts that I addressed today was funded by Labor as a strategic project.  Sadly the Government has refused to date to confirm whether they will be funded to hold their conference into the future.


“A further Budget looms and given the disgraceful slashing of skills programs in the first Abbott Budget, it’s time for Minister Birmingham to step up and protect skills funding, in particular, what’s left of the critical foundation skills programs.”