This summary report is based on a more extensive research report written by Dr Catherine Kell (with Kim Hastwell and Shona Guy) in 2008 and 2009. It draws on that work and also includes a reanalysis of the survey data. The research was undertaken for the Department of Labour to investigate the level of literacy, language and numeracy (LLN) in employer funded in-house training in workplaces in New Zealand. The aim of the research was to investigate the character of this training and consider reasons why the companies involved had not applied for government funding, predominantly through the Workplace Literacy Fund (Tertiary Education Commission, 2009b) and Embedded Literacy and Numeracy Projects funding, available to Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) (Tertiary Education Commission, 2009a).
Over recent years, a wide range of research into adult literacy, language and numeracy has been drawn on in order to formulate national policy in these areas. The research has provided information about the levels of New Zealanders’ literacy skills and employers’ perspectives on the types of problems encountered in workplaces as a result of low LLN skills. These resources include Benseman (2003), Gray (2006), Green, Huntington & Summers (2008), Maori Adult Literacy Reference Group (2001), Nielson, Culligan, Waston, Comrie, Sligo & Franklin (2006), Satherley, Lawes & Sok (2008) and Schick (2005). In addition, much information is available through reports and case studies on initiatives which are government funded, for example, projects drawing on the Workplace Literacy Fund (WLF) or the Embedded Literacy and Numeracy Projects (ELNPs) (Gray & Sutton, 2007; Industry Training Federation, 2009; Workbase, 2002a; Workbase, 2002b). However, there is little information currently available on enterprise funded in-house training with regard to literacy, language and numeracy skills. Schick’s large and informative study of employers in New Zealand (2005) focused on employer attitudes towards investing in LLN, but did not distinguish between LLN initiatives that were employer funded and those which were government funded nor did it explore the extent and nature of the initiatives that are being undertaken. This project therefore aimed to gain insight into what was happening ‘under the radar’ (that is, in non government funded programmes), for those seen as having low levels of LLN.