Workplace Literacy

Resources to Help Employers Understand Essential Skills (Spring 2011)

Literacy Link South Central has recently developed a set of resources for employers. It's our hope that employers will take this opportunity to learn more about the important role Essential Skills plays in their workplace.  

Survey Report-  "Essential Skills for Employment:What Resumes Won't Tell You"

In this report you will read what other employers said about how Essential Skills are used in their workplaces. You'll also find tips on  useful (free) tools that can enhance the hiring process and workplace performance.

Read the full report here.

Employer Workbook - “ Time for Essential Skills: An Employer’s Guide”

This wordbook can be used as a guide to help employers take a closer look at the role of Essential Skills in their workplace. Each activity has a suggested amount of time it takes to complete.  Download this workbook and complete it or select a few activities based on how much time you can spare.

 Time means money and so does Essential Skills!

 Download the guide here.

Employer Video- "Are Essential Skills Working For You?"

This six minute video tells employers how they can use Essential Skills to develop an effective hiring process. It also gives tips on how  to establish a workplace culture that celebrates learning.

View the video here:


What is Workplace Literacy?

Workplace literacy refers to the skills and abilities your employees need to have to function effectively, efficiently and safely in the workplace. Workplace literacy skills involve reading, writing, and math skills as well as other skills that employers need like critical thinking skills, computer use and the ability to work with others.

Did you know?
  • According to a recent study, almost half of Canadians do not have the necessary literacy skills to function effectively in today's society
  • Literacy affects employment stability and opportunities
  • Low literacy skills represent a massive loss of productivity
  • Low literacy levels cost businesses in Canada over $4 billion, and in society as a whole, it amounts to a loss of $10 billion
  • In order to stay competitive, the workplace is demanding higher levels of literacy from the workforce
  • Those with higher literacy skills tend to have higher incomes
  • Those with higher literacy skills tend to be more involved citizens
What does this mean?

A study by Statistics Canada released in 2005 shows that millions of Canadians do not have the literacy skills they need to keep pace with the escalating demands of our society and economy.  This loss of potential impacts on the social and economic well-being of individuals, families, communities and our country.

What can you do to find out more about your workplace and literacy?

As an employer, there are three ways you can get involved in workplace literacy:

  • Use the principles of clear writing when you develop or revise your workplace documents. Clear writing promotes word choice, sentence structure and layout that makes printed information easier to understand. Click here for a "before and after" to see how much of a difference clear writing can make.
  • Consider a workplace literacy program that is designed specifically for your workplace.
  • Promote local literacy services within your workplace.  LLSC created bookmarks to promote the literacy programs in each county.  Click on the link for the county to see the bookmark:  Brant  Elgin  Haldimand-Norfolk  Middlesex  Oxford

Contact Literacy Link South Central for more information.

Pour les services en francais veuillez appeler 519-451-5194 College Boreal a London

LLSC can help you to:
  • Determine your workplace literacy needs
  • Connect with literacy providers in your community
  • Produce written materials that are clear and easier to understand

For more information on Clear Writing, click here.

How do you know if you might need workplace literacy?

Unfortunately, there is not a test designed to identify all upgrading needs.  Below are some basic checklists that will help determine if literacy is an issue in your workplace.

Do your employees:

  • Take reports home to complete?
  • Get coworkers to fill out forms for them?
  • Have trouble filling out time sheets?
  • Have trouble with spelling and grammar?
  • Have trouble expressing themselves in writing?
  • Have trouble following instructions correctly / reading safety manuals?
  • Get hurt even though there are signs indicating danger?
  • Hesitate to participate in meetings?
  • Fear the implementation of computers?
  • Fear being trained on new equipment?
  • Seem to stay in the same position within the company for many years but not show an interest in advancement?

Has your organization:

  • Significantly changed methods of production or service delivery in the last two years?
  • Changed skill requirements for entry level jobs?
  • Increased or decreased in size in the last two years?
  • Conducted new skills training in the past that did not produce the results you wanted?
  • Conducted new skills training or re-training for entry level staff?
  • Increased quality standards?
  • Had to go outside its current employee pool to fill new jobs?
  • Experienced resistance to new management approaches?
  • Had frequent errors on paperwork?
  • Recently introduced new technology that required more time, effort and cost than expected?

Has your workforce:

  • Experienced an increase in the average age?
  • Increased in diversity?
  • Had a high turnover rate?
  • Been required to do more reading and decision-making now than in the past?
  • Show low participation in in-house projects like Health and Safety committees?

If you answered yes to two or more questions, your organization may need workplace education.

(Source: Building Skills Building Business Bringing Education into the Workplace Information Kit)

Benefit of Workplace Education

  • Better employee/management relations and union relations
  • Better team performance
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Better health and safety record
  • Increased customer retention
  • Increased employee retention
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Stronger bottom line because of time saving and improvements in quality of work

(Source:  The Impact of Workplace Literacy Programs)