The increase in the use of email and computers in workspots could me making both skilled and educated workers dumb, a recent report has revealed.
The survey measures the state of literacy and numeracy skills in 338 businesses employing about 56,000 workers.
Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the issue was an emerging problem.
"It's something we wouldn't have seen reported by business before," News.com.au quoted her as saying.
"There would be many older professionals that do need assistance to deal with things like email addresses," she added.
The report found that the use of email or web-based communication had uncovered another layer of illiteracy.
"Employees who have a reasonable level of literacy skill but are unable to complete some workplace tasks to the standard required," said Gillard.
"This included tasks like using appropriate email language in communications between employees and external customers.
"Some employers reported that employees with high-level technical skills, such as engineers, were poor communicators within workplace settings," she added.
One-in-four businesses indicated they had concerns about the literacy and numeracy of apprentices and technicians that they were employing.
AIG chief executive Heather Ridout said the issue had become a big problem.
"The skill intensity of jobs is rising all the time," said Gillard.
The report found that the services industry was most affected, with 16 per cent of service companies saying they were highly affected by poor literacy and numeracy, compared with 7 per cent of manufacturing companies and 3 per cent of construction firms.