Building Skills for All in Australia

Policy Insights from the Survey of Adult Skills

image of Building Skills for All in Australia

Australia’s overall performance in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) ranges from average to very good. However, three million adults, representing one-fifth of the working age population, have low literacy and/or numeracy skills. Building Skills for All in Australia describes the characteristics of the low-skilled and discusses the consequences that low skills have on economic and social development for both individuals and Australian society. The review examines the strengths of the Australian skills system, highlighting the strong basic skills found in the migrant population, widespread proficiency in use of ICT and the positive role of workplaces in skills development. The study explores, moreover, the challenges facing the skills system and what can be done to enhance basic skills through education, training or other workplace measures. One of a series of studies on low basic skills, the review presents new analyses of PIAAC data and concludes with a series of policy recommendations. These include: increasing participation of women in STEM fields, addressing underperformance of post-secondary VET students and preventing drop-out, improving pre-apprenticeships, enhancing mathematics provision within secondary education and tackling poor access to childcare facilities for young mothers.



Low-skilled adults in post-secondary vocational education and training (VET) in Australia

Some post-secondary vocational education and training (VET) students lack upper-secondary qualifications. Such students are much more likely to perform poorly in basic skills than their peers with higher levels of education. Women are also overrepresented among students with low basic numeracy and literacy skills. These findings show that initiatives targeting specific categories of post-secondary VET students, such as those with few qualifications and students in specific fields of study could be particularly effective. This chapter also discusses the importance of addressing underperformance in basic skills as a part of post-secondary VET studies.



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