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NET Gain No. 19:
Workplace Literacy
(May 1998)

Workplace literacy describes adult education that focuses on developing workers' -- or potential workers' -- basic literacy skills. The curriculum comprises lessons and activities relating to the workplace. The following sites include numerous resources for workplace literacy and workforce development -- references, lesson plans, electronic discussion groups, and links to other Web sites.

National Institute for Literacy -- The National Institute for Literacy (NIFL) has a useful site for locating current information about workplace literacy. In addition to its listserv (NIFL-workplace), surfers can find information on "Equipped for the Future," an initiative focused on helping learners build the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in adult roles, one of which is an employee. Use NIFL's searchable database to locate additional resources, visit state literacy resource centers, and review the archives or subscribe to NIFL-workplace.

U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration -- This site contains links related to job training and career development. Of particular interest is information found under "Practices" ( which includes profiles and full text of skill standards projects and information about effective programs. Another link provides draft documents for the forthcoming Workforce Development Performance Measures ( These are useful in defining economic and basic skills outcomes.

National Alliance of Business -- Through the National Workforce Assistance Collaborative, the National Alliance of Business provides small and mid-sized companies with publications that focus on high-performance work practices. These publications -- found under "Workforce Quality Publications" ( -- also include information about workplace literacy issues..htm.

ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education -- This ERIC Clearinghouse site provides information about publications and services in adult and continuing education and career and vocational education, including workforce preparation. Surfers also can link to other pages concerning adult career and employment training, workforce education, skill standards, and distance education.

Additional Sites

The following sites were not included in the paper (Techniques) version of this NET Gain because of space limitations.

The Internet Directory of Literacy and Adult Education Resources -- Find information about and directions for subscribing to four listservs related to workplace literacy at this site, including: LITERACY (workplace literacy one of many topics), NIFL-WORKPLACE (workplace literacy issues), NWAC-L (assisting small and mid-sized businesses with workplace literacy), TESLJB-L (workforce education with focus on English as a Second Language), and WEC-L (innovative approaches to workforce education).

Teaching Effective Workplace Communication -- This site, developed with support from a Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE) Incentive Grant, contains a curriculum bank of lesson plans to teach interpersonal skills to adults.

Kansas State Resource Center -- Project Self includes sample problem solving lessons for adult learners, including work-related topics such as job interviews and team work. The plans are useful but would be more so if they were interactive.

This "NET Gain" was compiled by Barbara Van Horn and Margaret Grumm at the Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy at The Pennsylvania State University's College of Education. An online archive of "NET Gain" columns is available on the NCRVE World Wide Web server ( Readers are encouraged to let David Carlson or Peter Seidman at NCRVE know about any changes in the resources listed, as well as about others they find useful.

David Carlson: 800-(old phone deleted);
Peter Seidman: 800-(old phone deleted);

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