Social capital outcomes: The new focus for adult literacy and numeracy courses

Adult Learning Australia
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 2006, 46 (3), pp. 317 - 336
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Since the early 1990s in Australia, adult literacy and numeracy courses in vocational education and training (VET) have been focused on human capital outcomes, that is, on developing the literacy and numeracy skills believed to improve the economic performance of individuals, enterprises and the national generally. However, some researchers have expressed the concern that these outcomes are insufficient in explaining the socio-economic impacts of these courses. This paper reports on a recent study of the social capital outcomes of adult literacy and numeracy courses (Balatti, Black & Falk, 2006). The finding indicate that it is a complex mix of both human and social capital outcomes from these courses that results in socio-economic impacts. The authors contend that social capital outcomes should be recognized, and accounted for, along with human capital skills, in a reframing of adult literacy and numeracy policy and practice.
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