Level 4 Infusion

Tying the adult literacy course to a specific employer, whether the course itself is taught on-site or at the adult literacy center, is the most direct school-work linkage. In these programs literacy, math, technology, and problem-solving skills are typically taught using actual materials from the job.

Although effective for learners who already have employment, this type of school-work tie is irrelevant for those who are seeking employment. Also, this type of workplace infusion requires cooperation from a specific employer and is more easily realized in some communities than others. It may also require more commitment in terms of dollars and personnel from the adult literacy program since establishment of a number of these workplace-specific educational opportunities usually involves personnel in the program having coordinating responsibilities that go beyond simply being a contact person. Not all adult literacy programs allot time or resources to developing these kinds of school-work connections.

Though the trend of businesses seeking to minimize operating costs results in employer-provided skill upgrading for most U.S. workers being either inadequate or nonexistent, several states are involved in innovative activities to target training and education toward workers and firms in the private sector (Liddell & Ashley-Oehm, 1995). Some states have special funding for adult literacy programs that promote this type of education-business partnership.

Compared to more general workplace literacy programs, these types of programs carry a high rate of success. Mikulecky (1995b) has detailed requisites for successful workplace literacy programs where instruction is tied to the needs of employees at a specific workplace. Similarly, Baechlin and Proper (1996) profiled Ohio�s seven award-winning workplace programs. Motivation is a key factor, with learners garnering support from a variety of sources. Employers have found company benefits are highest for those workers who have better-developed skills; thus, the trend for these types of workplace courses is not to focus on workers needing to improve very basic skills (Berryman, 1995). A review of high-performance work organizations (Imel, 1995) indicated that employee basic skills is just one of many components of these high-performance organizations. Also important to these organizations is a collaborative approach to skill upgrading where the workers themselves are involved in the development of company-based literacy programs. Recently, there has been an increased focus on evaluating workplace programs, not only in terms of the impact on job productivity but also on literacy-related changes in lifestyle and in learners� self-perceptions and aspirations. (Mikulecky, 1995a).