Workplace Literacy

Workplace Education Quick Facts

1 out of 3 Canadian employers experience basic skills-related problems with their workforce, yet less than 1 out of 10 employers are involved in literacy programs or referrals to programs. (Source: International Adult Literacy Survey, Statistics Canada, 1994)The impact of Basic Skills Programs on Canadian Workplace, by the Workplace Education Center of ABC CANADA, reports on 86 employer and employee representatives from 53 workplaces which had participated in basic skills training for at least 1 year:

  • 79% reported increased productivity
  • 84% reported improvements in the quality of people’s work
  • 73% reported an increase in the work effort
  • 87% reported more competent use of workplace based technology
  • 82% reported increased health and safety
  • 97% reported increased self confidence that benefits the workplace

When 600 managers from a broad spectrum of Canadian industry were surveyed in 1992, about 1/3 of them reported that poor literacy caused serious difficulty with:

  • Introducing new technology.
  • Product quality.
  • Productivity.

(Source: Adult Literacy and Economic Performance, Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, 1992)The estimated annual cost of low literacy to Canadian business is $1.6 billion for industrial accidents alone. This does not include the cost of illiteracy from lost productivity in other areas. (Source: Measuring the Costs of Illiteracy in Canada, Canadian Business Task Force on Literacy, 1988)

The Allen-Bradley Corporation, maker of programmable controllers, found that customer service calls shifted from 50 calls a day to 2 calls a month after they redesigned their documents using plain language and readable formats. (“Plain English on the Plant Floor”. Plain Language Principals and Practice, B. Jereb (ed.), Wayne State University Press, 1991)

Call for more information about implementing an Education Program at your workplace.
Project READ Literacy Network
Waterloo-Wellington
(519) 570-3054

How do I know if my Employees would benefit from an Employee Development Program?

If you have contacted Project READ Literacy Network, or another provider, chances are you know there is a need in your company for employees to enhance their skills. However, there isn’t a specific test or questionnaire to identify all educational and upgrading needs. Here are some clues that you should watch for in employees.

Writing Clues
Employees:

  • Take reports home to complete.
  • Get coworkers to fill out forms.
  • Have trouble filling out a time sheet.
  • Have trouble with grammar and spelling.
  • Have trouble expressing themselves in writing.
  • Written messages are difficult to understand.

Reading Clues
Employees:

  • Do not follow written instructions correctly.
  • Have not read the safety manual.
  • Get hurt even though there are signs indicating danger.
  • Mix chemicals together that should not be mixed.
  • Say they forgot their glasses and get others to read for them.

General Clues
Employees:

  • Have expressed an interest in employee development in the past.
  • Do not participate in meetings.
  • Are worried about the implementation of computers in their specific jobs.
  • Are nervous about being trained on new equipment.
  • Have been employed in the same position for the past 20 years and have not made any indication that they would like to advance.

Call for more information about implementing an Education Program at your workplace.


Benefits of Workplace Education
  • Practice reading, comprehending and using written materials including graphs & charts in their job.
  • Better union relations and employee/management relations.
  • Better team performance.
  • Reduced absenteeism.
  • Better health and safety record.
  • Increased customer retention.
  • Opportunity to upgrade skills to change jobs within the company.
  • Opportunity to continue to learn for life.
  • Increased self esteem.
  • Increased employee retention/loyalty.
  • Practice setting goals in work and personal life.
  • Practice team building and communication skills.
  • Stronger bottom line through time saving, lower costs and improvements in quality of work.
  • (Source: The Impact of Workplace Literacy Programs)
As an Employer: Do you need a Workplace Education Program?

Do you have:

  • A high rate of work related accidents?& claims?
  • Members who do not take advantage of job postings due to their educational background?
  • Excessive waste – too many or too frequent mistakes?
  • The frequent need to go outside your organization to fill new jobs?
  • New technology that employees are required to learn?
  • Lots of referrals to outside literacy organizations for your members?
  • Lots of revised job descriptions or new technology?
  • (Source: Workforce Literacy Overview)

For Workplace Education, Project READ provides:
A personal meeting to get to know the needs of your company.
Needs assessments and recommendations for starting workplace education programs.
Mid and end point evaluations of the educational service provided.
Confidentiality to all employees involved in the program.
A portfolio with workplace education information.

As an Employee: Why Should I Join?
  • To get more practice communicating with your coworkers and bosses.
  • To get better at reading work memos.
  • To get better at writing shift reports.
  • To get better at understanding safety rules.
  • To get better at managing your time.
Can I GO?

Yes, if:

  • You want to do better at your job.
  • You want to improve your reading, writing, and math skills for work.
  • You work in any department of the company.
  • You are able to do class work on your own time.

Cost? $$$

  • There is no cost to join a class.
  • You may have to pay for your books or materials (pens, paper).