Education is as important to adults as it is to children yet workplace education to improve adult literacy has not received enough attention. This has resulted in around 50 per cent of the workforce having low or very low literacy, numeracy and/or language skills. Functional literacy is an outcome of an individual’s adult literacy levels. Low functional literacy can lead to an individual being unemployed or under-employed. Even though they can sometimes be labeled as illiterate, this term is a misnomer. Few people are truly illiterate; many of those who are labeled illiterate can actually read, write and use numbers but they struggle to do so. This affects their ability to either get jobs, or to get well paid employment.
Functional literacy is very important; for example, think of the consequences if an employee fails to properly understand the health and safety instructions that their employer issues in relation to using a new piece of machinery. There are many other examples of why functional literacy is important in the workplace. A range of steps can be put in place to reduce adult illiteracy, and to help improve the skills of those who struggle with reading, writing and numeracy. Remedial education, instructor-led training and self-enrichment are just a few solutions. All of these methods can be used to help adults learn new skills and to improve adult literacy levels within the nation’s workforce.