Professional wisdom grows and changes in response to the melding of continued experience and new research. Four places to look for new research in adult education and literacy are:
Featured Resources in Workforce Education Research
The Core Knowledge Group of experts in Workforce Education has selected the following resources as representative of the most rigorous and/or the best professional wisdom currently available to the field of Workforce Education.
The Role of Education and Training in Welfare Reform
This research summary discusses the question of whether welfare-to-work programs should emphasize education and training versus immediate job placement. The research involved almost 100,000 randomly assigned single parents in 20 programs representing a variety of specific approaches and conditions. The participants were followed for five years. The study finds that the most successful programs used a mixed strategy—where some people are urged to get a job quickly and others are offered work-focused, short-term education or training, but also points up the continued need to identify pre- and post-employment strategies that are more successful in getting people higher-wage jobs. The implication for welfare reform is that participation standards should retain their focus on work but avoid restrictions that discourage a mixed strategy. This research should be most helpful to state policymakers in deciding how to maximize welfare-to-work funds.
Basic Skills in the Workplace: A Research Review
This report provides an overview and meta-analysis of 91 recent international research studies in the field of basic skills in the workplace and points out future research needs where current evidence is inadequate to answer the questions of policymakers. Section A4 of the report deals with the issue of the effectiveness of current workplace basic skills programs. The author finds that although there are not comprehensive research findings on this topic, evidence from successful good practice about what does and does not work should not be ignored. A 37 page selective, annotated, English-language bibliography is included. (Report may be accessed without registration.)
Economic Benefits of Improving Literacy Skills in the Workplace
This study explores the economic benefits of improving literacy skills in the workplace, from the perspective of both employers and employees. The Conference Board identified and measured these benefits by conducting a survey of 21 employers as well as by analyzing the data gathered on individuals in the 1994 International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS). Benefits enumerated by employers included increased ability to handle training on the job, better team performance, improved labor-management relations, increased quality, quicker training results, reduced time per task, increased output of products and services, reduced error rate, better health and safety record, reduced wastage, increased retention of employees, increased profitability, increased customer retention, reduced absenteeism, and success in transferring employees. Employees with higher literacy skills earn more income, are less likely to be unemployed, have greater opportunities for job mobility, are more likely to find full-time work, and are more likely to receive further training. The study should be useful for counselors in pointing up the benefits of improving literacy skills to adult learners, for employers and human resource personnel in evaluating the benefits of literacy training, and to policymakers in developing public policies supporting literacy skills development.
Success by Design: What works in Workforce Development
This study reports the benefits of joint labor/management workplace education programs in the United States and shows the practices that make these collaborative training programs successful. Nine training cohorts in health care, information technology/telecommunications, and hospitality sectors were included in the study. The report should be useful to organizations implementing or improving their own joint training programs. The report contains a “blueprint for action, based on 12 key program design elements...along with options for developing and delivering similar initiatives.”
Turning Skills Into Profit: Economic Benefits of Workplace Education Programs
In this study of the effects of Workplace Education Programs (WEPs), both direct and indirect economic benefits for the employer were documented and measured. Benefits of WEPs also accrued for labor-management relations, the greater community, employees, and economic developers trying to woo business and industry to their geographic areas. To gather data for this report, 100+ interviews were conducted with employers, employees, and union representatives from 40+ private- and public-sector workplaces representing a cross-section of economic sectors throughout the United States. Interviewees were selected from 45 national WEPs funded between 1995 and 1998 by the U.S. Dept. of Education as part of the National Workplace Literacy Program.
Determinants of Literacy and Numeracy, and the Effect of Literacy and Numeracy on Labour Market Outcomes
In this quantitative empirical study utilizing the Canadian Literacy Skills Used in Daily Activities (LSUDA) survey database of 9,445 respondents, both literacy and numeracy are found to contribute to labor market status of workers, their weeks worked, and income. Literacy and numeracy are found to be distinct elements of human capital. Differences in results based on gender are noted.
Good Practice in Use: Guidelines for Good Practice in Workplace Education
This report provides an overview of the literature on good practice in workplace education to date. It also examines some of the dilemmas an educator is faced with when working with principles of good practice on the ground. A section on how to apply the research to develop your own good practice guidelines is included.
Impact of Basic Skills Programs on Canadian Workplaces: Results of a National Study for ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation
This Canadian study provides evidence about the positive impact of workplace basic skills programs on soft factors such as confidence levels as well as hard, bottom-line factors such as increased productivity, and should be useful in promoting such programs to business and industry. The report is based on the results of standardized telephone interviews with 86 individuals from 53 workplaces with a diverse range of types and sizes. Results are reported in quantitative form.
Click here for a list of all Workforce Education Special Collection resources currently cataloged as research or technical reports in the LINCS catalog. (Note: This isn’t “hooked up” yet. To see the list of the resources that would come up, take the link and put in “research” as the search term. You’ll get the list.)