Page 3606 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 22 October 2013

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Some students discontinue the study of English and maths believing the courses are not required for their post-college studies. As students are often still developing their views on their future directions during years 11 and 12, such a decision can limit future options and success in further study.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Gentleman.

MR GENTLEMAN: Minister, how does ensuring that all students receive quality English education improve outcomes and improve students’ options for further study and work?

MS BURCH: I thank Mr Gentleman for his interest. The benefits to students of continuing to study English throughout their school years are highlighted in recent research reports that provide evidence of links between levels of literacy and future employment, wage rates, productivity, and engagement and success in future study.

The recently released OECD skills outlook shows that occupations for higher educated workers are increasing significantly, at the expense of those for low and medium educated workers. The report indicates that individuals with low levels of literacy are more likely to be unemployed and have lower median wages. They do not participate in volunteer activities and report poorer health. They also believe that they have little impact on the political process.

The Productivity Commission report on links between literacy and numeracy skills and labour market outcomes released in 2010 estimates that improving literacy and numeracy will have a significant effect in improving labour force participation, especially by women, and increasing hourly wage rates.

As I have mentioned earlier, English is also important for continued studies, either in VET or higher ed. VET and higher ed providers will certainly talk about the need for students to have strong literacy and research skills for further study, to know how to properly construct an argument, to know how to find valid and useful sources of information—beyond Wikipedia—and then to adequately reference those sources in their work, for example.

These are important skills gained through study of English at senior levels and ones that will serve them well in their professional lives. We must ensure that our students leave college with the knowledge and the skills to participate in the changing globalised economy.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, what occurs in other states in relation to mandatory study of English?

MS BURCH: I thank Dr Bourke for his interest. The requirements for the award of senior secondary certificates differ around Australia based on the local context and

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