Indiana: Investing in workplace literacy December 14, 2006Posted by Tom in Education, Workforce.
The nasty little secret that we must address in America is that many of our workers – even some well-paid workers – do not possess basic workplace literacy skills. So says a study, “A Demand-Side Strategy to Meet Indiana’s Workforce Basic Skills Challenge” (Full Report, Executive Summary), that the Indiana Chamber of Commerce published in January 2005.
The study states that 50% of our adult workforce has low literacy skills, meaning that they have a hard time with these tasks:
Skills Needed to Get a Job
- Read a want ad and complete a written application
- Talk about skills, abilities, accomplishments, likes and dislikes
- Answer and ask questions
Skills Needed to Survive on a Job
- Follow oral and written directions, ask for clarification or reasoning, and make small talk
- Locate written information, facts or specifications
- Understand technical vocabulary and the enabling words attached to them; for example, “pour the pellets into the extruder”
- Understand and use charts, diagrams and illustrations
Skills Needed to Thrive on a Job
- Give as well as follow instructions
- Participate in group discussions
- Teach others
- Predict outcomes
- State a position
- Express an opinion
- Access and use information from diverse sources
Fortunately, The study did not go unnoticed.
The Lilly Foundation of Indianapolis just announced a $1.25 million grant to address this issue in the Hoosier State through a new program through the Indiana Chamber called Ready Indiana. Here’s a little more:
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce estimates that about 1 million Indiana workers should improve their workplace literacy skills, but only about 20,000 receive additional training each year. So the chamber is heralding a new three-year program – called Ready Indiana and paid for with a $1.25 million Lilly Endowment grant – that will help companies find the training they need for employees.
Some workers need to improve reading levels or technology skills, while others need to improve working as part of a team or following directions, said Ready Indiana director Jane Howard: “It’s not just reading and writing and math, but it’s all of the other skills that go into making a productive workforce.” The program is an important step to help workers get the skills they need in the new knowledge-based economy.
Good work. Not the most glamorous work, to be sure, but perhaps among the most important.