National Strategy for Foundation Skills launched

Working age Australians, aged 15–64 years, will benefit from a new strategy aimed at improving English language, literacy and numeracy skills.

Launching the National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults at Redarc Electronics in Adelaide, Parliamentary Secretary for Skills, Sharon Bird, said the joint Commonwealth and state and territory government publication sets out a collaborative approach across both levels of government to encourage broader engagement in foundation skills programs.

Lifting adult foundation skills is fundamental to improved workforce participation, productivity and social inclusion.  ABS data indicates that there are many Australian adults who would benefit from foundation skills training.

“For many people, having a better grasp of English language, literacy and numeracy and improved employability skills will open doors to career advancement and higher wages,” Ms Bird said.

“The kind of jobs that are emerging in Australia over the next five to 30 years will require increasing levels of skills, underpinned by further training and education.

“If Australia is to have a productive, highly skilled and flexible workforce that meets industry needs, we need to help workers to continually build and adapt their foundation skills for new technologies and purposes.

“We’re committed to enabling working-age Australians to be more socially engaged, participate fully in community life and contribute as best they can to Australia’s economic future.

Local Federal Member for Kingston, Amanda Rishworth MP said that foundation skills can be the difference between getting a job and not getting a job. That’s why it is important to ensure that there is broad access to programs that help working-age Australians develop these skills and improve their employability.

The strategy supports the Skills for All Australians package announced by the Prime Minister in March 2012, and the National Agreement on Skills and Workforce Development agreed by Commonwealth, state and territory governments at COAG in April 2012.

The Australian Government administers a range of programs and initiatives that contribute to the aims of the strategy, including the Language, Literacy and Numeracy Program, and the Workplace English Language and Literacy (WELL) program.

The host of the launch, Redarc Electronics, has received funding under the WELL program to provide literacy, numeracy and coaching skills training to over 75 staff in partnership with TAFE SA.

South Australian Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Tom Kenyon, said investment in foundation skills was not only important in increasing participation in the workforce but also had significant benefits to boosting productivity of industry and that is why Skills for All in South Australia has significantly increased funding for foundation and entry level skills.