HomeBlogLiteracy rates affecting workers’ competence, with early childhood reading key

Literacy rates affecting workers’ competence, with early childhood reading key

As reported on ABC World Today, and also on 7 News website, yesterday Australian companies are reporting an alarming deterioration in levels of worker literacy and numeracy. In a survey of more than 500 employers by the Australian Industry Group, 93 per cent of respondents said their employees’ poor literacy was affecting their business and also putting workers at risk.

United Way’s view echo’s that of education specialists who emphasise that whilst efforts to improve literacy levels at primary and high school are important, encouraging children to embrace books and learning should begin in infancy. Dr Jensen, director of the school education program at the Grattan Institute, says the earlier educators can detect gaps in learning, the better.

“As students grow and even after they leave secondary school it gets more and more expensive,” he said. “People are less likely to achieve literacy gains at the same rates as younger children. And obviously some of the other issues are that much more difficult to overcome such as interest in education and attachment and engagement to education.”

For the full 7 News articleclick here.

Jenny Riley, United Way’s Community Impact Manager was interviewed and also emphasised that starting young is key and that this is something we are delivering to disadvantaged communities through our early literacy initiative incorporating Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. 7 News article reported the following:

“It distributes a book a month for children aged zero to five, directly into their mailbox,” said Jenny Riley,

“It’s a brand new Penguin book which is age appropriate. What we know is that the more books there are in the home, the better those children are going to be in terms of their literacy long term.”

She says to excel at school and beyond, our interest in literacy and learning needs to be sparked before school even begins.

“What we now know is that 80 per cent of brain development happens before kiddies are starting school. And there are key things that little ones need to learn before that age rolls around, because if they’re not ready to learn, ready to read, then they won’t take up that learning.

“…these are basic things such as being able to hold a book and turn the pages, being able to recognise letters. Recognise basic shapes and be able to communicate with their peers. And what we know is that those that have done that – had that through early education, mostly, if they’ve gone to preschool – have picked up these skills.”

Ms Riley says they are the ones who are doing better when they start school.

“They’re the ones who are doing better in year seven NAPLAN, better in year nine NAPLAN, are more likely to complete year 12 and are therefore going on to better outcomes in life.”

 To listen to the full the ABC World Today interview please click here & follow the prompts on the ABC World Today website.

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