An exploration of workplace literacy as a catalyst to support employees in dealing with changing workplace literacy practices
acm: ComputingMilieux_COMPUTERSANDEDUCATION | ComputingMilieux_THECOMPUTINGPROFESSION
The changing workplace requires employees to engage with new ways of working that rely increasingly on a variety of literacy skills. This study used action research to answer the research question whether a workplace literacy initiative could act as a catalyst to support employees to manage these new literacy practices in the workplace with confidence. A multi-national high-tech manufacturing plant in Ireland which is in a process of continuous change was selected as research site.
A 45 hour workplace literacy course was designed in consultation with the stakeholders involved: government, employer, training provider and employees. The researcher acted as mediator between them. This collaboratively designed contextualised course was delivered to one group of eight employees on-site.
Literacy terminology throughout the initiative was exchanged for more workplace friendly terminology.
An approach viewing literacy as a social practice acquired in a constructivist manner was used during curriculum design and facilitation of the training. Topical workplace related content like managing change, problem solving, teamwork and effective communication, was used to explore individual needs and literacy practices. Much of this work was undertaken through dialogue and often assisted by computers. This resulted in each participant presenting three portfolios for accreditation by the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC).
Outcomes for the participants were an increase in confidence in reading, writing, speaking as well as increased computer skills. Participants also expressed a better understanding of and capacity to deal with changing workplace literacy practices.
Stakeholders stated that their perceptions of workplace literacy had been challenged.
The researcher-mediator identified that expectations for the workplace literacy course were not mutually exclusive. By creating a space for consultation with collaboration as a desired outcome, areas of resonance were established. The workplace literacy initiative resulted in benefits for all stakeholders with outcomes matching most of their desired expectations.