Adult Learning and Literacy Research Group ALCR: Adult Literacy and Communication Research Group

 

Feedback on the draft Tertiary Education Strategy

Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback on the draft TES. This comes from the Adult Literacy and Communication Research Group, Massey Business School, Massey University, Wellington and Manawatu.

In respect of TES question one: Will the proposed approach to targeting, improving system performance, and supporting high quality research, help realise the Government’s 3-5 year priorities?

We strongly support TES item 2.2.1: "continue to provide intensive literacy programmes in workplaces". This is very important in producing workers who can be high-achieving in innovation and in raising workplace productivity. However we submit that this statement in the TES is insufficient by itself.

First, we note that in TES section 3.3 Monitoring, there appears to be no focused assessment of how well such intensive literacy programmes in workplaces are actually producing higher literacy levels at work. Therefore we recommend that some monitoring of the government’s investment in workplace literacy should be specified in the Strategy.

Second, our research consistently points to the inability of schools to meet the language, literacy and numeracy needs of the lowest-achieving 20% or so of students. In our view, good-quality provision needs to be made for those students for whom school is not working, preferably in workplace-related education and training, outside the school setting. Until the lowest-achieving students are catered for, businesses will continue to receive new entrants who are minimally prepared for the demands of the modern workplace.

Third, while the orientation of the TES, the Skills Strategy, and other related government documents is towards workers with insufficient literacy capabilities, in our assessment, until managerial literacy is significantly strengthened, investment in intensive literacy improvement in workplaces will be of uncertain and uneven value.

Essentially only managers and business owners with good literacy can understand the importance of raising literacy levels, and then when it occurs, utilise enhanced literacy to improve innovation and productivity. Hence investment in workers’ literacy needs to be matched with work to enhance their managers’ capabilities.

We are of course happy to offer further comment on any of these issues.

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