Adult literacy inquiry begins with evidence from Productivity Commission and Department of Education, Skills and Employment

Issue date: Monday, 15 February 2021

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The House Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training will hold its first public hearing on Wednesday, 17 February 2021 as part of the Committee’s inquiry into adult literacy and its importance. The Committee will hear evidence from the Productivity Commission and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE).

The Productivity Commission’s review of the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development found that there should be a coordinated national strategy to improve school education, ‘second-chance’ learning in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector and other adult education services. This would seek to reduce the large number of Australians with low language, literacy, numeracy and digital literacy skills. The review also proposed improvements in foundation skills, better credit pathways, an expansion of VET Student Loans and a trial of a new financing instrument for mature-age Australians to reskill and upskill.

Committee Chair, Mr Andrew Laming MP said, ‘It is concerning that up to one in five adult Australians may have low literacy and/or numeracy skills, which limits their capacity to participate fully in employment, education and training, and social and civic life.’

‘The Committee looks forward to examining the Productivity Commission’s findings and will seek evidence from DESE about a range of relevant Commonwealth-funded programs that support adult literacy and numeracy. These programs include the $1 billion JobTrainer Fund, Skills for Education and Employment, Foundation Skills for Your Future, Remote Community Pilots, and the Reading Writing Hotline’, Mr Laming said.

Submissions to the inquiry have been requested by Friday, 5 March 2021. Further details about upcoming public hearings will be available on the Committee’s website as the inquiry progresses.

Public hearing details
Date: Wednesday, 17 February 2021
Time: 11.40am to 1.00pm
Location: Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra
Witnesses: Productivity Commission and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment

The hearing will be broadcast live at

Media inquiries
Mr Andrew Laming MP, Chair
07 3821 0155

For background information
Committee Secretariat
02 6277 4573

For more information about this Committee, you can visit its website. On the site, you can make a submission to an inquiry, read other submissions, and get details for upcoming public hearings. You can also track the Committee and receive email updates by clicking on the blue ‘Track Committee’ button in the bottom right hand corner of the page.

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