A Murdoch newspaper story reported a few weeks ago that nine out of 10 employers say that poor staff literacy is hitting their bottom lines is further proof that the Liberal Government’s cuts to adult numeracy and literacy programs were ill-considered and are hurting Australia’s productivity.
In the Liberals’ first budget, Tony Abbott abolished the National Workforce Development Fund (NWDF) and the Workplace English Language Literacy Program (WELL). They went further in December 2014 slashing funding to the Skills for Education and Employment program (SEE).
In last year’s MYEFO, Malcolm Turnbull cut a further $122.9 million from the SEE program and $273.8 million from the Industry Skills fund.
The NWDF and WELL programs were co-funded by government and industry and allowed workers to participate in numeracy and literacy programs and also update their skills.
The SEE program helped jobseekers looking to develop speaking, reading, writing or basic maths skills.
At a time when most industries need to become more productive and innovative through up-skilling their workforce the Liberals have abandoned the field.
The Liberals have cut over $2 billion from skills since their election in 2013, despite the evidence that we need to ensure that our workforce has the literacy and numeracy skills they need.
Minister Birmingham has said today that “…the Government realised it must arrest our slide down international comparison tables for mathematics and literacy”.
Rather than sprouting rhetoric, the Liberals need to start talking about what they are going to do to address the problems raised by AiG today.
The Liberals never talk about TAFE.
The Liberals never talk about investing in skills.
The Liberals never talk about upskilling workers in areas of transition.
The Liberals never talk about apprentices.
They only talk about cuts.
The cuts have to stop – we should be investing in training the workforce of the future – not cutting each and every program that helps train people to enter or re-enter the workforce.
When will the Turnbull Government start listening to business and the community and start investing in training our workforce?