About the project

About the project

The Literacy 4.0 Project is examining the workforce literacy needs of the workplaces of the future.

Workplaces are said to be in the middle of a ‘fourth industrial revolution’, following the earlier transformations brought about by steam, electricity and digitisation. It is often referred to simply as ‘Industry 4.0’. The emerging ‘smart’ factories in Industry 4.0 increasingly rely upon automation augmented by artificial intelligence, the crowdsourcing of tasks, and the use of freelance workers engaged in microtasking.

In Industry 4.0 workplaces are changing into workspaces. They now form local nodes of a complex network of people, technologies and practices that constitute a potentially globally distributed workspace. Workspaces are dynamic, fluid, often transient, working units defined and bounded by regular, routine information and communications technology routes.

Established industry sectors, such as manufacturing in Australia and globally, have been disrupted by these changes, leading to job losses. There is a need to support transitions for existing workers into new jobs and to prepare new workers for the workplaces and workspaces of the future.

Not only is industry undergoing a revolution, but work literacy itself is also undergoing dramatic change. A key issue for success in Industry 4.0 is understanding the nature of the literate practice of contemporary work, and the literacy texts and practices that underpin the skills, knowledge and attributes required in the new workplaces. In other words, if we expect education across the lifecourse to prepare people for Industry 4.0, then we need to understand Literacy 4.0.

In this project we are addressing this issue. We want to know to what extent the literacy required in these new workplaces is more or less the same or and to what extent new literate practices are generated and new literacies required. If so, what are these new literacies, how are they demonstrated, and how can they be learned?

Our aim is to stimulate debate, and ultimately to inform policy and pedagogy, based not on predictions for the future but on a better understanding of what is happening in workplaces and workspaces now.