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Research Developments from ACER

Vocational & Adult

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Quantifying the return on investment of workplace training

Research into the returns to businesses and industries for investing in workplace literacy and numeracy training will be discussed at an ACER conference.

The research, conducted by ACER for the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), is helping employers identify the quantifiable return on investment in literacy and numeracy training for their workers.

ACER is developing return on investment instruments to document the productivity benefits arising from employer provision of literacy and numeracy training, and the costs involved in such training, in order to provide a basis for estimating the return to employers from investing in literacy and numeracy training.

ACER Research Director Dr Phil McKenzie will discuss the ongoing research with Ai Group Policy and Projects Manager, Education and Training, Michael Taylor, at the second annual National Adult Language, Literacy and Numeracy Assessment Conference in Sydney tomorrow.

Dr McKenzie, who is leading the research, will tell delegates to the conference that estimating the return to employers from investing in literacy and numeracy training provides several benefits.

'The instruments developed through the project are also intended to be a resource that employers more broadly can use to evaluate the pay-off from their existing training programs and to help plan future training investments,' Dr McKenzie said, speaking ahead of the conference.

ACER’s ‘return on investment’ instruments are being trialled during 2013 in selected Workplace English Language and Literacy programs.

The need for literacy and numeracy training in the workplace was highlighted by the preliminary results of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) released in February, which revealed that many adult Australians do not possess the literacy and numeracy skills necessary to participate fully in modern life and work. ACER Research Director Juliette Mendelovits and Senior Research Fellow Mr David Tout will address the PIAAC data at the conference tomorrow.

The conference features four keynote addresses and twenty other conference and pre-conference sessions. Keynote speakers include:

  • Professor Geoff Masters, CEO, ACER;
  • Dr John Mitchell, Managing Director, JMA Analytics;
  • Robin Shreeve, CEO, Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency; and
  • Pam Christie, Managing Director, TAFE NSW.

The second annual National Adult Language, Literacy and Numeracy Assessment Conference, addressing the theme ‘Building on evidence to improve skills,’ takes place at Ultimo College, Sydney Institute, from 9 to 10 May and is hosted by ACER. ■

Find out more:
For further information on the National Adult Language, Literacy and Numeracy Assessment Conference visit <>

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