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Boosting Literacy for Future Employment

Being able to read and write is crucial to lifelong success. But reading and writing alone cannot prepare students for college and employment. According to "Education to Employment: Boost Skills, Bridge the Gap" published on Forbes, 58 percent of employers say education providers do not properly equip graduates for careers.

Where does the gap occur? Employers say that new hires do not possess the required reading, writing and communication skills to succeed in their jobs, according to "What Literacy Skills Do Students Really Need for Work?" Further, employers claim that K-12 schools need to improve students' critical thinking and digital literacy skills.

So, who is responsible for closing the skills gaps? K-12 educators express that companies do not deliver the training workers need. Educators also explain that schools cannot cover the multitude of topics employers want in addition to what they already teach. They must draw the line and focus on their purpose, which is to prepare students to become informed and engaged citizens.

Nevertheless, educators and employers agree that the math and English standards in most states do not provide what students need to be ready for college and employment, according to a Washington Post article. Education researchers have found no proof that the Common Core State Standards can close achievement gaps.

How Literacy Affects Employment

Everyone needs more than basic literacy skills to flourish. Prospering in today's workplace requires achieving different types of literacy, including digital literacy.

Studies show a tie-in between literacy levels and employment. The National Council for Adult Learning reports that low literacy skills cost the U.S. $225 billion annually in workforce non-productivity, unemployment tax revenue and crime.

NCAL also reports the following:

  • Twenty-five percent of unemployed adults fall within the two lowest levels of the literacy scale.
  • Out of these unemployed adults, 43 percent had the lowest numeracy levels.
  • More than two-thirds scored at the two lowest skill levels in problem-solving.

The most alarming data out of all this is those with jobs also received poor scores.

Employment demands a higher level of literacy skills, as workers need to comprehend and analyze data in searching for solutions. All workers need to communicate problems, solutions and information. However, those with higher literacy levels tend to communicate more effectively — getting their messages across and comprehending the messages they receive.

How Teachers Can Prepare Students for Employment

If the Common Core does not prepare students for college and jobs, then what can teachers do? A large part is getting training. An EdSurge article titled "What Does It Mean to Prepare Students for a Future With Artificial Intelligence" recommends ramping up teacher training and revising the curriculum. One way to accomplish this is to involve technology companies and higher education institutions. They can offer capacity, curricula and courses to teachers.

Educators who want to do something more can pursue education opportunities. Such opportunities enhance their knowledge of creating curricula that satisfy standards and also better prepare students for employment.

Motivated educators who want to teach digital literacy and citizenship can visit Common Sense, a nonprofit organization that promotes digital citizenship. They may want to check out International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), an organization that helps teachers harness technology to empower its learners.

Another option is a graduate school program such as a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction: Reading & Literacy. Programs like this train degree candidates to promote reading, literacy and lifelong learning among their students. The LSUS program covers multiple teaching strategies, theories and models to tailor reading programs to the needs of students.

Learn more about Louisiana State University Shreveport's online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction: Reading & Literacy program.


The Washington Post: Common Core Isn't Preparing Students Very Well for College or Career, New Report Says

Forbes: Education to Employment: Boost Skills, Bridge the Gap

National Council for Adult Learning: Adult Education Facts That Demand Priority Attention

EdSurge: What Does It Mean to Prepare Students for a Future With Artificial Intelligence?

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