In one study, ten manufacturing companies in the area of Chicago, USA, making products ranging from hydraulic valves to bubble gum, provided basic English language, reading and mathematics education for over 700 employees. In evaluation studies conducted in six of the companies, many supervisors reported that the programs had a variety of positive effects on organizational effectiveness, including increased productivity, employees became easier to train, their job performance, safety, and communication improved, many became more promotable, and a third of them said their companies would continue the programs.3 ( pp. 6-9)
The majority of the employees themselves said that the workplace literacy programs had helped them not only at work, but also at home and in the community, and most were encouraged to seek further education (Figure 1. 1).
Figure 1.1 Effects of Workplace Literacy Programs in the Chicago Area, 1994
As these and other studies show, an investment in functional context education at work may provide "double duty dollars," resuming benefits not only on the job, but also at home, in the community and at school. Importantly, these benefits to organizational, individual, family and K-12 school effectiveness occur directly following adult literacy programs and serve to make the current workforce more productive. To accomplish the improvement of the workforce through the formal school system with children would mean that, not only would many schools have to become much more effective than they are today, it would take several generations to replace the present workforce. The economic return to investment in adult education is immediate.