Technology And Literacy Skills

Posted by Grimshaw on November 12th, 2011

If you have checked in for a flight in most modern airports, you will experience first hand how the old system of an airline representative manually checking in passengers has been replaced by a computerized self help system. The change is one of many examples of the impact technology has on today’s working environment.  The skills required to perform this task have been replicated by technology (although maybe not being able to deal with grumpy passengers!)

 This manual task is only one of thousands that is being carried out more cost effectively by technology.  The implications for New Zealand’s workforce are considerable. While we cannot forecast the jobs that will be around tomorrow, we can predict that the skills required for these jobs will not be skills that can be easily replaced by technology.

 Compare this scenario to New Zealand’s aging workforce where 60% of today’s workers will still be in the workplace in 2020. This same workforce where over 40% of workers have low literacy skills, and are currently under skilled to carry out their existing jobs.

While we cannot be certain about what jobs will develop in the future it is obvious that that we need to up skill existing skill and knowledge levels.

 Literacy and numeracy is not just about reading and writing. It also involves the cognitive skills associated with more complex work – abstract reasoning, problem solving, communication and collaboration. In today’s workplace change is taking place rapidly. It is not enough for workers to try to learn by simply watching. They need to be able to read complex manuals, analyse diagnostic information, and understand written descriptions of changed procedures.

 Up skilling workers was the key reason Queensberry, which exports 95% of its custom made photographic albums worldwide, brought in literacy training. Director Adrienne Baugh wanted workers to have the confidence and skills to be able to take on more responsibility. She also wanted them to be able to understand key documents and data to fulfill orders accurately and to the high standard clients expected.

  At the completion of Queensberry’s literacy training, the skill level of employees had improved 14% on average over the 15-month period. In the album assembly team, the fastest area of growth, skills increased by 33% over the same period.

 Like most other companies introducing literacy training, the training was not an isolated training programme - a number of workflow and system initiatives were introduced to aid productivity. What Adrienne found was “The literacy training made the other training we put in place much more effective. It was particularly helpful in improving the language skills of team leaders and their teams.”

 Current demographic trends show that future internal growth in New Zealand will come from Maori, Pacific island and Asian populations. Many of the latter two groups have English as a second language so the implications for literacy and numeracy levels are even greater.


About The Author:

 Workbase is New Zealand's most experienced service provider of adult literacy  numeracy and communication support. Find out more at

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Joined: November 8th, 2011
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