Boosting workplace literacy and numeracy training

  • Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
  • Hon Chris Hipkins
Prime Minister Education

More New Zealanders will be supported through literacy and numeracy training in the workplace, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

 “This extra support is part of a wider Government commitment to the wellbeing of all New Zealanders and to lift productivity. It is part of our ongoing work to tackle the long-term challenges this country faces,” Jacinda Ardern says.

 “This is another initiative that has come out of the Government’s Tripartite Future of Work Forum.

 “Automation and artificial intelligence are increasingly affecting jobs meaning New Zealand needs a population with high-level literacy and numeracy skills to build a high-productivity, high-wage economy and an inclusive society where everyone can participate.”

 The new funding of $14.5 million over four years means the Government will contribute nearly $45 million to the employer-led workplace literacy and numeracy fund between 2019 and 2022.

 “We need to do a lot more to lift adult literacy and numeracy, particularly in lower-skilled occupations. But we also know people have busy lives and that a lack of time is the most common reason they in are not participating in training,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

 “Increasing resources for on-the-job literacy and numeracy training is a practical way of opening more doors and supporting New Zealand businesses and workers for the future of work.

 “We’re making comprehensive changes to vocational education, including ramping up on-the-job training, and the extra funding means we can also look more closely at the benefits of embedding literacy and numeracy in other training.

 “Putting a bigger focus on literacy and numeracy is something employers have told us they want, starting in schools.

 “Through the changes we’re making in the NCEA, it’ll be clearer to employers that a learner has met a standardised benchmark, so they can have confidence that the NCEA literacy and numeracy requirements are credible and reliable,” Chris Hipkins said.


Media contact

Richard Trow (For Chris Hipkins) 021 278 7233,


-       The most recent Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) survey in 2016 estimated 12 percent of adult New Zealanders have only Level 1 or below in literacy, and of those 61 percent are in work.

-       The employer-led literacy and numeracy fund (administered by Tertiary Education Commission) is open to organisations with generally lower-skilled employees or staff. Typically, the organisations hire specialist trainers to deliver approved courses as flexibly as needed. For 2019 so far we are funding 64 employers, some of whom have more than one contract. This applies to about 3,500 learners. The new funding would be expected to help up to 1500 additional workers.

-       Example of success (Porirua City Council)