ERIC Number: ED317873
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Jul
Workplace Competencies: The Need To Improve Literacy and Employment Readiness. Policy Perspectives Series.
Barton, Paul E.; Kirsch, Irwin S.
Employers find it increasingly difficult to hire competent workers, in part because expectations are rising in the face of global competition. A single standard of literacy is an inadequate measure. The National Assessment of Educational Progress' profile of 3,600 young adults measured three types of literacy: prose (reading and interpretation), document (using tables and charts), and quantitative (performing numerical operations). The study concluded that, among entry workers, (1) relatively small proportions are proficient at moderate or relatively complex tasks; (2) minority groups' scores were generally lower; and (3) the longer the time in school, the higher the literacy proficiency. More information is needed about the literacy levels of occupations. In addition to literacy, employers are demanding employability, problem-solving, interpersonal, and other skills. Some claim that the future workplace may have even higher requirements. Clearly, present literacy levels are too low to meet even current needs. The following actions are recommended: (1) address information processing skills; (2) expand proficiency measures beyond classroom reading; (3) develop instructional approaches that simulate real experience; and (4) improve evaluation measures by developing employment readiness profiles, conducting longitudinal literacy studies, and analyzing the literacy needs of occupations. (23 references) (SK)
Descriptors: Adult Education, Basic Skills, Employment Potential, Employment Qualifications, Entry Workers, Futures (of Society), High School Graduates, Job Skills, Labor Needs, Minority Groups, Workplace Literacy, Young Adults
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.