Low literacy skills lock people out of jobs

hands-on-keyboardChanging opportunities in a digital world are highlighting the need for greater literacy. From centrelink forms to your mygov account – if you can’t read and write it becomes an almost insurmountable hurdle to running your own life. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2012 approximately 7.3 million (44%) Australians aged 15 to 74 years had low literacy skills.

The Reading Writing Hotline is encouraging people who feel they have a gap in their literacy skills to call them to find out how to improve their skills.

‘It’s amazing the strategies people can invent to cope or hide the gaps they may have in literacy and it’s equally amazing how much of a difference it can make when they do overcome their fear and seek help,’ said Reading Writing Hotline Manager, Vanessa Iles. 

The largest group to use the hotline are men from an English speaking background between 25 and 44.

They often report either recently coming out of employment and [are] finding it hard to get back in due to new literacy requirements or feeling that they are going to be “found out” having poor reading or writing skills,’ said Ms Iles.

The hotline can provide advice and connect people to local resources that can assist in gaining the literacy skills needed to re-enter the workforce or to interact with the world effectively. Local providers include the Murwillumbah Community College, Byron Bay Community College and the Gold Coast Libraries.

‘We look at the individual support package needed,’ said Patrea Mourtzakis, foundation skills coordinator from Byron Bay Community College. Depending on the needs of the students they can access the full foundation course while others can access the units that will fill in their knowledge gaps. ‘Its been very interesting,’ said Ms Mourtzakis. ‘I’ve had to stretch my knowledge in some of the areas [we teach] to.’

Ten trained and experienced teachers are available to provide support, find material and connect people to local resources to provide assistance via the hotline on 1300 6 555 06 or go to their website.

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