Improving adult literacy and numeracy

Te whakapai ake i te ako pāngarau, ako pānui mā te pakeke

Last updated 8 November 2016
Last updated 11/08/2016

Improving adult literacy and numeracy for industry is Priority 4 of the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) 2014–2019. This section provides information about our work in lifting adult literacy and numeracy skills, including through the use of our dedicated literacy and numeracy funds. It also provides resources to help educators improve the capability of the tertiary sector.

Why improving adult literacy and numeracy is important

Literacy and numeracy skills are crucial for building a competitive, skilled and productive workforce. However, internationally benchmarked research (OECD, 2006) shows that more than a million New Zealand adults have less than optimal literacy skills (43 percent) and numeracy skills (51 percent) for a knowledge-based economy. New Zealand’s low levels of literacy and numeracy have been identified as contributing to our relatively low productivity.

Improving adult literacy and numeracy underpins several of the Government’s Better Public Services results and is Priority 4 of the TES.

Our implementation strategy

We have an implementation strategy which sets out how we will work with the tertiary sector, employers, and government to lift literacy and numeracy skills of adults. 

The Literacy and Numeracy Implementation Strategy 2015–2019 was released in November 2015 and has been developed in consultation with sector stakeholders and other government agencies.

We have developed and support a range of initiatives to help raise adult literacy and numeracy skills for a knowledge-based economy. These include:

  • developing high-quality resources to support educators
  • providing opportunities for learning through funding and programmes
  • introducing professional development for the tertiary workforce.