The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry urges the Federal, State and Territory Governments to work together at the next COAG Education Council meeting to gear policy and funding towards literacy and numeracy in schools.
ACCI’s response comes after the latest international PISA survey found Australian students lagged behind by as much as three and a half school years compared to students in the top performing countries and regions.
“The 2018 PISA results reflect what business has been consistently saying to the education sector – improve literacy and numeracy standards of our Australian youth. We are increasingly seeing our young people leave school with inadequate basic skills,” ACCI’s Director of Employment, Education and Training Jenny Lambert said.
“In PISA 2018, Australia ranked 16th for Reading literacy, 29th for Mathematical literacy and 17th for Scientific literacy out of the 79 participating countries. Compared to 2015 Australia remained stagnant or declined relative to other countries. We have to address this.
“School funding has risen but we are not seeing a positive impact on basic literacy and numeracy skills which are needed across the economy in all workplaces. We need the funding to be focused on addressing these skills shortages,” Ms Lambert said.
“We should be disappointed but not surprised that the latest ABS data shows that for the first time since records began in 1995, labour productivity has taken a negative turn with a fall of 0.2% in the September quarter.
“Education attainment is likely to be a factor in this productivity fall.
“With students coming out of schools without minimum literacy and numeracy levels, employers increasingly find that it is taking a long time for school leavers to become productive in the workforce, in part because they require significant training in these basic skills.
“We urge the Federal and State Governments at the COAG Education Council meeting next week to urgently address this issue. If we want to be internationally competitive and create and sustain well-paying jobs for Australians, then we have to aim to improve our literacy and numeracy performance compared to other countries.”