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Workplace literacy training works, report shows

10 October 2002 Media Statement

Workplace literacy training works, new report shows

A new report highlights the value of targeted investment in workplace learning.

Skill New Zealand’s evaluation of the Workplace Literacy Fund was released today by Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey. The $500,000 Fund was established by Government in July 2001 to assist employees to gain work related literacy skills and to promote the value of workplace learning to employers and tertiary education organisations. Ten firms from six different industry areas participated in the jointly funded workplace based projects.

Steve Maharey said the Fund was achieving its objective of providing foundation learning opportunities to people who had previously missed out on these essential skills.

“The release of this report on the eve of the Government-Business Forum called by the Growth and Innovation Advisory Board is timely. Business have been very keen to impress upon the government that a lack of foundation skills amongst workers is a significant impediment to increasing productivity and the development of more innovative products.

“The ability to learn in the workplace does make a difference for adult learners because of the relevance of the learning and opportunity for peer support. Learners identified both workplace and personal objectives as reasons for wanting to participate in the learning.

“The projects have opened up new worlds to many of the people involved. Participants wanted to achieve qualifications, update employment skills, learn to use computers and improve their mathematics, reading, writing and spelling skills.

“Firms involved are optimistic about the achievements of these projects. In addition to a cash contribution, firms made significant contributions in terms of foregone earnings from lost production and of management time planning and liasing with the projects.

“The employers and employees who have participated in the projects to date are to be commended for their vision and ambition. Building a knowledge-based society means lifting the skill base of all New Zealanders – not just a university-trained elite – and this report shows New Zealanders workers and their employers are keen to put considerable effort into moving ahead.

“The Fund is one of several new tools the government has put in place to realise the aims of New Zealand’s first Tertiary Education Strategy (which was released in May). One of the six priority areas it identified for action was the urgent need to raise the foundation skills of New Zealanders,” Steve Maharey said.

ENDS

The Workplace Literacy Fund: Interim Evaluation Report has been posted to Steve Maharey’s website at www.beehive.govt.nz/maharey

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