Workforce Literacy and Factories of the Future

The rise of robotics in manufacturing requires workers to have sophisticated literacy skills so they can direct machines and join up innovation and production networks. With machines doing the work that people used to do, the way products are imagined, developed, produced and distributed is being transformed, creating new work for people. However, 93 per cent of manufacturing employers report that low workforce literacy and numeracy are impacting their business, according to the Australian Industry Group. Educators, governments and the OECD share concerns about the relationship between workforce literacy skills, the productivity of global companies and the success of national economies. Professor Farrell will explore how the digital revolution, known as Industry 4.0, is fundamentally challenging our understanding of working literacies.

Professor Lesley Farrell is Associate Dean Research at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. Prior to joining the Graduate School, she held the position of Professor of Education and Associate Dean Research in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney, and has held appointments at Monash and Deakin universities. Her research focuses on language and social change, especially relating to the education of globally distributed workforces. Recent publications include Knowledge mobilization and educational research: Politics, languages and responsibilities and Educating the global workforce: Knowledge, knowledge work and knowledge workers.