Tackling workplace literacy a no-brainer

Workers’ literacy may not be top-of-mind in most organizations, but it should be
By Sandra Mingail
|CHRR, Guide to Training & Development|Last Updated: 11/22/2004

Think of the term “literacy.” What comes to mind? The most common response is that literacy relates to the ability to read or write. In the narrowest sense this is true. Yet workplace literacy covers much broader — and equally critical — turf.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada defines nine essential skills, or workplace literacy skills, needed to succeed in a fast-paced and evolving business environment. Those skills stretch far and beyond mere reading and writing. They also encompass document use, numeracy, oral communication, teamwork, thinking skills, computer use and continuous learning.

A lack of these skills means that companies struggle with productivity issues. According to Statistics Canada, 47 per cent of Canadian workers do not possess adequate skills in the three areas essential for workplace safety and productivity: reading text, document use and numeracy.