Australian adults are above the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) average in literacy skills but just below par in numeracy.
But still 14% of Australians can at best read only relatively short texts from which they were able to locate only a single piece of information.
And 22% can only carry out one-step or simple processes such as counting where the mathematical content is explicit with little or no texts.
A working paper produced by the Productivity Commission has analysed the profile of adult literacy and numeracy skills in Australia, and how important those skills are.
A one-level increase in skills, approximately equivalent to the difference between completing Year 12 education and completing Year 11 (or lower), is associated with:
- An increased probability of employment of about 2 percentage points for men and about 4 percentage points for women
- An increase in wages of about 10%, for both men and women.
The authors found a high correlation between literacy and numeracy. Someone with low literacy skills is also likely to have low numeracy skills.
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