Workplace literacy and numeracy learning: An opportunity for trade union renewal in Australia?

Publisher:
Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA)
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
International Journal of Training Research, 2012, 10 (2), pp. 94 - 104
Issue Date:
2012-01
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This paper first examines the current literacy and numeracy 'crisis' in Australian workplaces where loss of productivity, lack of take-up in training, and skills shortages are being blamed on workers' lack of literacy and numeracy skills. Literacy and numeracy in workplaces are more complex and require alternative understandings of literacy and numeracy as well as the perspectives of workers themselves. Secondly, this paper discusses the opportunity for unions to demonstrate their stake in the education and training of workers. We ask what possibilities are there for this to happen; and what models exist from which Australian trade unions can draw? In the UK the Trade Union Congress (TUC) successfully negotiated with the Labour Government, to establish a Union Learning Fund (ULF) and give recognition to union learning representatives (ULRs), to facilitate learning for workers. The paper considers what new directions Australian unions might explore in the emerging VET policy environment.
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