Release type: Media Release


Reinvigorating foundation skills training


The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP
Minister for Skills and Training

The Albanese Government has reinforced its strong commitment to improving adult language, literacy, numeracy and digital literacy skills in its response, tabled today, to a key House of Representatives committee report. 

The Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training report, Don’t Take it as Read, Inquiry into adult literacy and its importance, made 15 broad recommendations to improve foundation skills, most of which the government has advanced over the last 18 months.

Around one in five Australians have literacy and/or numeracy gaps, which limits their ability to participate fully in training, employment and the broader community.

Foundation skills are crucial to achieving a range of outcomes across education and training, employment, productivity and social inclusion.

The Government’s initiatives into improving foundation skills include a $436.4 million investment into redesigning the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program. 

The redesigned SEE program, which will commence from 1 July 2024, will provide foundation skills training to job seekers, employees, people not in formal education, employment or training, and First Nations Australians. We have also removed the requirement to be a registered job seeker to access assistance through SEE.

Under the National Skills Agreement (NSA), recently endorsed by National Cabinet, the Government is investing up to $142 million over five years to improve foundation skills training quality and accessibility, including within the Adult and Community Education (ACE) sector or equivalent.

Under the NSA, the Australian Government will support states and territories to provide learners with an assessed need, free or low-cost foundation skills training through their VET or ACE provider. We are working with states and territories to build a system where there is "no wrong door" for Australians who seek assistance.

The Government’s work to improve foundation skills is being guided by the Foundation Skills Advisory Group, established in October 2022.

The group brings together foundation skills experts and representatives from peak bodies, employers, unions, First Nations organisations, and state and territory governments. 

To ensure Australia can continue to measure the literacy, numeracy and digital skills of Australian adults, the Government has commissioned Jobs and Skills Australia to develop a national survey of foundation skills.

The findings will help create a national evidence base to assist researchers, policymakers and program managers to improve foundation skills access and delivery. 

We are working to make up for a lost decade when foundation skills didn’t get the attention they deserved and access to services were limited by eligibility rules which excluded many people who needed assistance.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Skills and Training, the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP:

“I welcome the Committee’s report and recognise the members for their work in delivering the report and associated recommendations. 

“There are too many Australians who cannot access training and career opportunities due to poor foundation skills.

“Reinvigorating foundation skills training was a key outcome of the 2022 Jobs and Skills Summit as part of the Australian Government’s commitment that no Australian is left behind.”