Businesses need skilled employees to remain competitive, but many jobs go unfilled because employers cannot find employees with the right skills, as indicated below. And with many baby boomers soon retiring, the crunch will only get worse. Businesses invest in education for many reasons, but one reason cuts across all others: a skilled, literate employee is a better employee.
Working Together describes some bottom-line reasons for getting involved in adult literacy and can demonstrate the value of such an investment to your colleagues. Adult education organizations also can use this as a recruitment tool when approaching potential business partners. To share it with others, print the PDF version (212KB).
The problem has many dimensions. Here are a few:
- More than 80 percent of executives in a National Association of Manufacturers survey (2005) say they face “a serious shortage of qualified workers.” Some 32 percent say their employees lack basic skills (Deloitte Development, 2005).
- Census data from 2000 show that more than 51 million adults lack a high school diploma or its equivalent.
- Results from the 2005 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (Educational Testing Service, 2007) indicate that fewer than 50 percent of U.S. adults performed at level three or higher of four levels of literacy proficiency. (Performance at levels three and higher is considered the minimum needed for success in the labor market).
- Census figures also show that between 2000–2004, nearly half of all immigrants in the U.S. aged 16 and older reported that they did not speak English well or at all. This language deficit can seriously limit immigrants’ prospects for success at work.