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Workplace illiteracy

Part 5 of 6

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Develop Education/Training Goals

Once deficiencies have been identified, goals need to be set. Goals provide the guidelines and targets for specific plans and should be outcome focused, achievable, and as specific as possible. They should address desired skill levels, time frames, numbers and types of participants, and relevant costs. In developing its basic skills program, Motorola's initial goal was for all manufacturing workers to have communication and computation skills at the seventh grade level by 1992, soon going up to eighth and ninth. (Wiggenhorn, p. 71) A broader goal which demonstrates Motorola's commitment to education is to provide a mini­mum of 40 hours of instruction to each of its 100,000 employees worldwide. (Washburn and Franklin, p. 2)

Develop Training Plan

The training plan should address the specific activities for achieving the training goals. Included in the plan are considerations of timing, cost, types of classes, providers, sources of funding, and technology.

Each organization has different needs, and as a result, plans vary dramatically. A valuable tool in developing plans is to study the approaches used by organizations who have been successful in developingbasic literacy programs.

Implement Plan

Once the plan has been developed it needs to be imple­mented. This sounds like a common sense step, yet many plans fail from improper or incomplete implementation.

Evaluate Effectiveness

A vital step in the process, evaluation assesses how effec­tive a program has been. Organizations often assume that something has worked without really going back and doing the analysis. While knowing about results is important, the primary value in this part of the process is to feed the results into the re-planning process so that improvements can be made the next time.
Common Stumbling Blocks in Literacy Programs

Several major stumbling blocks have been identified in the development and implementation of basic literacy programs. Pour key aspects which need to be addressed include the lack of commitment from top management, the special needs of the adult learner, the motivation of people to start and stay with a program, and English as a second language.

Lack of Top Management Commitment

As is the case with any activity involving substantial change in an organization, commitment of top manage­ment to a literacy program is essential. "Many companies have a commitment to education and workforce training, but the resources allocated to that commitment often show that it ranks below other priority items. Training goes on, to be sure, but it is not world-class training, and it certainly does not involve the time and effort of the key managers who say they are committed to leading the company to world-class standing." (Bell and Burnham, p. 252)

If people who are asked to change don't see active interest and visible participation from those at the top, they won't give the program their full effort.
Special Needs of the Adult Learner

Adult learners in general, and those with literacy problems in particular, may have special needs which need to be addressedfor learning to bemeaningful. Many adults don't (or never did) feel comfortable in the traditional classroom, where the teacher presents the information and the stu­dent is expected to learn. Many older students need to "experience" the material in some other manner in order to grasp it, and to have the teacher be more of a guide or facilitator. Technology-based, self-paced instruction can also be used effectively in situations where students may feel uncomfortable about participating in a normal class environment.

Another special need of adult learners is to feel that what they are learning has some value or application in their own work environment. This makes it essential for exercises to be developed that are less abstract and more realistic in terms of daily activities. This also creates a higher level of general interest in the material.

Finally, adult learners need to feel that they have some self-control over the learning process, whether it's choice of material, subject or pace. Many adults feel more comfort­able with smaller blocks of material which can be mastered quickly. This changes the role and perspective of teachers in adult environments.

To be Continued

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



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