Literacy is Good Business
A well-educated, highly skilled workforce is the best means of keeping the wheels of business moving forward. Employers’ needs and expectations for the skill-levels of front-line workers in all sectors of the economy continue to grow. There is also a need to address the skills of workers for whom English is not a native language.
The Manatee Literacy Council is committed to providing increased awareness in our community about the impact of low-levels of education on workers’ lives and the companies that they represent. Literacy levels affect employee safety, absenteeism, and overall business profitability. We provide in-person and virtual Workplace Literacy training for employees through trained teachers. Classes can be customized to a particular industry, with special attention paid to the soft skills and vocabulary needed for that industry.
Here in Florida, 24% of our adult population are at or below the lowest levels of literacy. (https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/piaac/skillsmap/) In the United States, more than 43 million adults cannot read, write, or do basic math above a third-grade level. ProLiteracy estimates that low literacy levels costs the U.S. more than $225 BILLION each year in non-productivity, crime, and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment.
How Literacy Helps Business
- As workers’ basic skills improve, so does worker retention.
- Workers with higher literacy levels are less likely to miss work days and more likely to recover from medical absences quicker than their illerate counterparts.
- Better literacy skills contribute to greater health and well-being, as low literate adults cannot understand materials distributed by healthcare providers.
- In the food industry, progressive changes, federal laws and safety regulations in preparation and packaging make it very important to overcome literacy barriers in the workplace.
- Effective customer service in the hospitality industry depends on good communication in English and the ability to read and understand workplace materials and instructions.
- Front-line food and hospitality workers are often those reading at the lowest levels and with the greatest need for English language instruction.
- Workplace safety is closely related to literacy levels in all industries.
Top Ten Ways
You Can Help
- Provide, encourage and support continuing education and professional training for employees.
- Donate to literacy programs which are often underfunded and have long waiting lists of learners needing trained volunteers.
- Provide in-kind donations of equipment, materials, advertising, space and technology.
- Donate Expertise by taking on a literacy program for pro-bono services such as financial or strategic planning, human resources, technology, webmastery or public relations.
- Encourage your employees to share their expertise and provide paid time for them to do so.
- Support family-friendly policies for education.
- Encourage employees to volunteer as literacy programs are often small and cannot hire staff. They depend on volunteers and community partners.
- Become an advocate within your community, speaking out for adult education and literacy.
- Adopt a local literacy program – get your business involved in providing ongoing support at all levels and in all areas of your local community.
- Start a literacy program in your workplace! Making training available to your employees is a positive incentive and opportunity to improve skills. Partnering with Manatee Literacy Council is an excellent way to offer classes specifically geared toward improving the lives of your employees.
Please contact , Michelle Desveaux McLean, Executive Director for more information on how Workplace Literacy can help your business.