Literacy affects the workforce by increasing its economic and financial well-being, as well as the well-being of the whole country.
Literacy skills belong to the set of essential skills required at the workplace. The pool of illiterate people is formed mainly by high school students dropping out of school and by immigrant adults with low command of English language. At the same time, more advanced literacy skills are needed in the modern working environment compared to the average work requirements 5 years ago (Campbell 3). Basic literacy skills required to enter the job include reading, writing and counting skills, coherent speaking skills and listening skills. In order to reach career advance, it is necessary to possess computer skills, skills of completing forms and documents, good spelling skills, skills of legible writing, possess understanding of technical information, adequate vocabulary, ability to follow instructions, make conclusions, identify bias and relationships, ask for additional information, give directions and information. The purpose of this paper is to set evidence that literacy affects the workforce by increasing its economic and financial well-being, increasing its economic and financial well-being, as well as the well-being of the whole country.
First of all, modern working environment is becoming more and more technologically advanced, and, as a result, more jobs require high level of literacy even for junior positions. Higher percentage of literacy among the workforce leads to higher employment and can help to solve the problem of the lack of qualified workers. Moreover, higher literacy rates coupled with lower unemployment can stimulate economic development, and overall well-being of the country. Indeed, according to Rojewski, the larger the proportion of workforce with high literacy skills is in the country, the higher GDP per capita is (Rojewski 253).
Secondly, workers with higher literacy levels need less instruction and make less mistakes. These factors significantly help to increase productivity. Higher literacy also allows to train employees for new tasks and to allocate them to different tasks or departments. Trainings help to increase wages, and it is notable that the effect of training of productivity is twice as much as it is on wages (Rojewski 255). Both companies and employees benefit from career advancement. Literacy skills required for career advancement are, at the same time, significantly more diverse than average literacy skills required to get a job. Thus, higher productivity of the workforce is impossible without high literacy, and, vise versa, increase of literacy level implies higher productivity and economic benefits for both companies and employees.
Thirdly, high level of workforce literacy allows to decrease industry costs, improve competitiveness and even optimize the decision-making processes within organizations. Indeed, industry costs show direct correlation to literacy skills of their workforce (Campbell 4): people with higher literacy skills are able to follow the instructions correctly, comply with health and safety requirements, and are able to use equipment and materials correctly. Competitiveness of companies with highly literate workforce is thus significantly higher than competitiveness of companies with illiterate or insufficiently literate workforce. In addition to this, companies with more literate employees tend to use advanced management structures and involve employees into decision-making (Campbell 11). Creativity, innovation and business flexibility can only be fostered in the companies where employees have superior levels of literacy. Business effectiveness, competitiveness and business climate in the country are strongly related to workforce literacy, and increase of literacy level will have a significant positive effect on these factors, thus leading to economic efficiency and improved well-being for all participants of business processes.
At the same time, there exists a potential negative effect of high workforce literacy on economic and financial well-being. This effect is related to the increasing number of working women, growing literacy rates among women and strong correlation between the decline of birth rates in the USA and increasing rates of female literacy (Rojewski 291). Although working women have better career perspectives and the financing stability of households where both man and woman are working are significantly higher, this trend in the long-term perspective can result in the decrease of U.S. population, associated decrease of the workforce and economic depression due to the lack of workforce. This problem can be partially solved by replacing the deficit of workforce at the expense of immigrants, but these measures will also lead to the decrease of overall literacy, and the decrease of economic well-being of the workforce.
At the same time, it is supposed that the dynamics of workforce improved by higher literacy rates and economic development fostered by these workforce changes will account for greater economic benefits for the U.S. compared to the potential negative effects associated with the decline of birth rates. Government policies aimed at stimulating birth and helping young families might also be used to solve this problem without decreasing workforce literacy rates.
Overall, it is possible to conclude that higher literacy has a positive effect on the workforce as it increases economic and financial being of employees and economic situation in the whole country due to a number of reasons: higher level of employment, more opportunities for career growth, higher wages, improved technologic and business advancement, improved health and safety situation, better productivity, lower costs, higher competitiveness and business flexibility of the companies. Although the increase of female literacy is also associated with lower birth rates, positive effects of higher literacy are likely to overcome the consequences of this negative trend and to lead to the improvement of overall economic and financial well-being. Thus, literacy affects the workforce by increasing its economic and financial well-being, as well as the well-being of the whole country.
Campbell, A. What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You: Literacy’s Impact on Workplace Health and Safety. The Conference Board of Canada (2010): 1-48..
Rojewski, Jay W. International perspectives on workforce education and development. IAP, 2004.