With one in five Australian adults having poor numeracy proficiency and one in eight scoring below average for literacy, the need for adult learning has never been more important (Source: OECD).

There are many reasons why adults do not attain the level of literacy, numeracy, and digital competencies to successfully navigate through employment, however, the consequences are typically universal. With lower literacy, adults can become disengaged with the workforce, or become overlooked for promotion or development opportunities, reducing their prospects.

The consequences reach far beyond economics. As a result, adults often become dependent on welfare, have lower self-esteem and are exposed to higher levels of crime (Source. World Literacy Foundation). Research also indicates there is a correlation between low literacy levels and poor health outcomes.

Closing the Gap

This issue becomes even more pronounced when focussing on foreign language immigrants and First Nation adults. The Community Involvement Solutions (CIS) estimates that 70% of indigenous adults in remote areas are ‘functionally illiterate’.

Considering the economic, social and personal implications to our First Nation communities, adult learning is therefore a key component for Closing the Gap.

When we successfully implement training to support adults, their prospects improve across all spheres of their life. In particular, becoming a driver for economic activities in the community and enabling effective participation in political and economic matters affecting their communities. As we move to strengthen the relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-indigenous peoples, this participation is paramount and therefore shouldn’t be limited to a few, but as many voices as possible.

Economic benefits of adult learning

It is important that adult learning isn’t exclusively evaluated based on its ‘return on investment’, over the social, environmental and community benefits it provides.

That being said, a key motivational driver for the individual to complete the training, and also the employer or organisation funding the training, is often economic.

The adult who is learning ultimately can see the economic benefits achieved through enhanced employment prospects, and through this will quickly gain improved competence, confidence, self-sufficiency and general well-being.

As a result of this, the positive outcomes snowball, as adult learners become more engaged with the workforce, reducing welfare and costs to society.

When a whole community of adult learners goes through this process, the community is empowered, not just economically, but through other non-market benefits.

Community benefits of adult learning

When an adult enhances their language, literacy, numeracy or digital skills they not only develop their own intellect and improve their prospects, but they make contributions to other spheres of life and community.

According to research from The Allen Consulting Group, there are many non-market benefits attained through adult learning, including:

  • Health and wellbeing

Individuals with greater levels of educational attainment are less likely to drink, smoke, suffer from obesity or mental health issues and are more likely to exercise.

  • Household management

Individuals are more likely to achieve greater rates of saving and make better financial decisions according to Wolfe & Haveman 2001.

  • Social capital

Improving adult literacy helps individuals to work together in a group to effectively achieve a common purpose.

  • Decreased crime

Adult education provides many more economic benefits for the individual, preventing poverty and other factors that may incite criminal behaviour.

  • Intergenerational benefits

Children of adult learners will be more likely to follow in the footsteps of their parents, enabling them to also enjoy improved employment prospects.

Implementing Adult Learning

Our role at Skills Explorer is to help remove the barriers around adult learning. Often employers don’t know how to implement or find the time to train their team. This is where we can help. Providing proven assessment and training solutions that can be tailored to their needs.

Equally, we support organisations that focus on skills for employment, by helping them develop individuals so they can access employment opportunities.

If you are seeking a specialist LLND practitioner to help you equip your team or those seeking employment, please contact us to learn more about how we can help.

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