Literacy is an excellent return on investment.

Written by Bruce Fincham


Literacy is an excellent return on investment. For an individual and family, having a family member struggling with literacy can be a costly financial loss. It costs tens of thousands of dollars each year to the family. There are bigger loss impacts on the employer and New Zealand economy too.

In today’s world, we put a lot of emphasis on return on investment and how a particular event will impact the economy. COVID19 has brought the economic impact to the fore for both businesses and people.

The government is scrambling to prevent the New Zealand incurring high debt levels. Before, New Zealand did have savings for a rainy day, that Jacinda Ardern says is now here.

In this pandemic, government economic calculations get hurled around like graffiti.  With questions asked, what will the financial cost be if the second wave of COVID19 hits? What will happen if Auckland goes into level 3 lockdown? How much will it cost if different parts of New Zealand are at a different COVID19 level?

A monetary and economic review is vital in today’s way of life. But equally important is having literacy and numeracy skills. If only to have a full picture of events like COVID19 impacts from the different news channels.

For the individual, functional literacy and numeracy skills enhance a discerning individual. And increases an individual’s well-being, self-esteem, and confidence.

Putting time into improving literacy skills has a significant return on investment. These returns come in the form of securing better employment and getting paid higher wages by becoming more employable due to increased competencies. The individual enhancements also include social inclusion and improved socio-economic status.

For the employer, there is also a significant return on investment. Through increased employee productivity, and enhanced quality of product and services. Resulting in increased profitability.

Rural communities and businesses get even more value. Generating social and environmental benefits for those within the community. Literacy organisations like RYALT (Rural Youth and Adult Literacy Trust) play an essential part in creating these quality outcomes.

New Zealand economy gets a good return on investment through reduced unemployment. As well as a happier, more confident, and skilled workforce. Including being healthier, and more socially cohesive purely, because an individual took time to increase literacy value.

The return on investment can be the measured many different ways; monetary is one way. Improved skills, happiness, confidence, and self-esteem are just a few of the other ways.