Read some of the latest national and international research and evaluation reports about workplace literacy and numeracy.

International Workplace Literacy Policies

Anne Alkema, Skills Highway Research Manager 
February 2017

The Skills Highway team has been having a look at what is happening internationally in relation to improving the adult literacy and numeracy skills of workers through government funded programmes. Across Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, and Scotland:

  • countries are taking an integrated approach that sees literacy and numeracy incorporated into wider foundation and vocational skills programmes. As such it is difficult to know how much emphasis there is on literacy and numeracy in workplace programmes
  • while the countries have literacy and numeracy / foundation skills strategies which aim to improve the skill levels of adults, there has generally been a reduction in funding for workplace literacy programmes
  • Canada and Australia are investing in resources to support employers
  • charitable trusts have been set up in Canada and England to help employers understand more about the benefits of foundation skills.

Read the summary report here.

Workplace Literacy Fund: Employer-led Outcomes Report 2013-2015

Prepared for the Tertiary Education Commission
Anne Alkema, Skills Highway Research Manager 
August 2016

This report examines the extent to which Workplace LN funding contributed to outcomes for individuals and their workplaces, based on analysis of quantitative and qualitative data supplied by 30 employers in their final fund reports to the TEC. The reports came from 35 employer-led programmes that ran between 2013-2015.

Employers’ reports on programmes funded through the employer-led strand of the Workplace Literacy Fund show:

  • the fund is reaching priority learners, industries and regions
  • gains in literacy and numeracy, but the exact extent of these cannot be determined because of the way they are reported
  • improvements in how workers use their literacy and numeracy skills at work which lead to improved efficiencies in the workplace
  •  improvements in workers’ confidence that leads them to better engage and participate in their workplaces which in turn leads to a more positive workplace culture
  • an inability to report on the extent to which there have been productivity improvements 
  • a range of approaches to sustainability. 

Read the full report here.


Maximising the benefits of the Workplace Literacy Fund

Prepared for the Tertiary Education Commission
Anne Alkema, Heathrose Research 
August 2015

This research reports on where programmes funded through the Workplace Literacy programme were being delivered in 2014 and provides information about good practice in workplace literacy programmes.

Read the full report here.

It shows:

  • programmes are reaching those with lower level literacy and numeracy skills
  • employers and industry and regional stakeholders lack awareness of literacy and numeracy issues in the workplace and what can be done about it
  • providers need to work hard to get employers underway with programmes.

The research also developed a set of good practice indicators for workplace literacy programmes. The indicators relate to:

  • how to start a conversation with employers
  • communication
  • identifying workplace issues
  • planning
  • designing and delivering programmes
  • measuring the impact of programmes
  • sustainability. 


TEC commissioned research about adult literacy and numeracy

Five research reports are summarised here. They cover:

  • the use of Pathways Awarua
  • how industry training organisations embed literacy and numeracy
  • tools to help tertiary education organisations better use evidence to set literacy and numeracy benchmarks
  • the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool’s contribution to educational outcomes
  • the alignment of adult literacy and numeracy measures.