Who is Bill Gaw?
And why should we listen to him?

 Lean Manufacturing Principles and Techniques 

Continuous Improvement Program
"The 8-Targets of Kaizen."

Continuous Improvement Program

Increase the effectiveness of your
Lean Manufacturing Training Program

Lean Manufacturing Simulation Game 

Workplace illiteracy

Part 3 of 6

privacy policy

Contact Us

 To review our training 
 options, click on 
  the links below: 

e-Training Packages:

Lean manufacturing

Performance Management

Quality Mgmt. System

Inventory Management

Lean Six Sigma

Strategic Planning

     Other Options:   

Lean Manufacturing
Simulation Game

Continuous Improvement Process

Thinking Outside 
the Box Principles 

Lean Manufacturing
Certification Program

Kaizen Blitz/Events

1-Day, On-site

5-Day On-site
Manufacturing Survey
and Action Plan

The Bottleneck of Workplace Illiteracy

Workplace illiteracy is a major problem in America today. Perhaps the biggest impact comes from the fact that illiteracy, in the most fundamental sense, creates a block­ade or bottleneck for future changes which most organiza­tions see as the only viable option for competing in tomorrow's competitive global market. With a rapidly changing envi­ronment facing them, companies must learn to compete in new ways, and this frequently requires workers who can think, reason, work independently, and adapt to new situations.

Many companies have adopted new philosophies which focus on teamwork, participation, and worker empower­ment. These include approaches such as TQM, JIT, World Class Manufacturing, and kaizen. A common factor in all of these programs is the ability of workers to learn and apply new concepts quickly and efficiently, with a mini­mum of instruction.

Much has been written about the resistance to change in the implementation of new programs. Many issues, such as lack of top management commitment and poor attitudes, are identified as key causes of failure, but illiteracy may be just as significant. Millions of dollars are spent on high-level training in things such as TQM. Workers generally understand the concepts, yet a large percentage of workers may not be able to effectively participate in the operation of such programs. Illiteracy prevents them from really understanding and applying the techniques on a day-to­day basis. Workers without adequate basic skills are frustrated in these environments, and may be unable to cope at all.

The illiteracy bottleneck results in ineffective use of train­ing dollars, prevents necessary growth and change, and eliminates any real chance of long-term world class perfor­mance.

Tools and Methods in the Fight Against Illiteracy

There is a need for a systematic approach in implementing a successful workplace literacy program. Before address­ing that issue, however, it is necessary to investigate some of the basic approaches that are being used today. Of particular interest are the different types of literacy pro­grams, providers of services and funding sources, and the role of technology.
Types of Literacy Programs

Literacy is being attacked through many different types of programs which are designed to deal with specific aspects of the situation. They tend to focus on a relatively narrow segment of the problem and are designed to meet specific needs. They include:

• English as a second language
• Adult basic education
• Adult secondary education
• GED preparation
• Certificate programs
• Computer skills

Providers of Services and Sources of Funding

Many methods exist for the provision and funding of literacy programs. Providers of services include:
• In-house company programs
• Local school districts
• Community and four-year colleges
• Literacy councils/volunteers
• Community/economic development programs
• Labor unions
• Government agencies
• Professional organizations
• Coalitions of the above

Sources of funding include:

• Federal/state/local governments
• Business and industry
• Foundations
• Unions
• Community organizations
• Professional organizations
• Participants themselves
• Tuition reimbursement

No single provider or source of funding has been found to be superior in all cases. Stories of successes and failures abound in each category. A particularly good source of success stories is "A Modern Workplace In The Face Of An Age-Old Problem: Illiteracy." (Washburn and Franklin, pp. 2-5)
In selecting providers and sources of funding, organiza­tions must keep in mind that the most important consider­ation is identifying what the literacy training is supposed to accomplish. Another important observation is that well designed coalitions and partnerships bring about a synergy that goes beyond what single entities are able to accom­plish alone. Beyond the practical aspects of working together, companies need to be aware that extra
funds are available through programs like the Workplace Literacy Partnership Act of 1988, which allows the Depart­ment of Education to allocate federal money to businesses and educational institutions which form partnerships to provide basic education.

While companies would like to think it is the government's responsibility for insuring that people are literate, they need to realize that it up to them to share some of the financial burden if the problem is to be solved.

To be Continued

For balance of this article, click on the below link:
Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 02


To stay current on manufacturing competitive knowledge, please subscribe to our weekly bulletin, "Manufacturing. Basics and Best Practices (MBBP)."  Simply fill in the below form and click on the " subscribe button." 

We'll also send you our Special Report, "6-Change Initiatives for Personal and Company Success."  

All at no cost of course. 

First Name:
Your E-Mail:

 Your personal information will never 
be disclosed to any third party.

privacy policy

Here's what one of our subscribers said about the MBBP Bulletin:

"Great articles. Thanks for the insights. I often share portions of your articles with my staff and they too enjoy them and fine aspects where they can integrate points into their individual areas of responsibilities. Thanks again."

               Kerry B. Stephenson. President. KALCO Lighting, LLC

Lean Manufacturing Menu

Balanced Scorecard Training    Lean Manufacturing Implementation
Overview of Six Sigma    Inventory Reduction Techniques
Strategic Tactical Planning   Total Quality Management
Articles and MBBP Archives    Lean Management Training
Strategic Planning Training  Lean Six Sigma Training
Performance Management Training    Kaizen Training
Thinking Outside the Box Principles  Kaizen Blitz 
Lean Manufacturing Certification Program

Lean Manufacturing Improvement  Performance Management Improvement
ISO 9000:2000 Improvement  Continuous Process Improvement
Value Steam Mapping Improvement  Strategic Planning Improvement
Supply Chain Management Improvement

"Back to Basics" Training for anyone ... anywhere ... anytime

Business Basics, LLC
6003 Dassia Way, Oceanside, CA 92056
West Coast: 760-945-5596

© 2001-2007 Business Basics, LLC