Chris Meade, executive general manager of human resources for construction giant Downer, quoted in the Business Herald recently, says she would like to see further action to support the Tertiary Education Commission's work to address the issue.
Meade said the company had enjoyed huge productivity gains and significantly reduced workplace accidents after it put steps in place to improve literacy and numeracy skills.
"We found many of our people's literacy skills had eroded since they'd left school and they had lost confidence as a result.
"This manifested itself in issues such as high levels of equipment damage because people were unable to follow basic pre-start and shutdown procedures, and a general failure to engage in their jobs," she said.
A combination of Government-subsidies and company-funded training had enabled Downer to upskill around 2000 staff over the past six years.
"Tertiary training institutions have a strong role to play but workplace literacy training is a critical plank too.
"Most employees with low literacy simply don't have the time or confidence to to go a polytechnic.
"Workplace training provides a safe, familiar environment that enables employees to immediately apply their new-found skills to their jobs."