Literacy programs are beginning to feel the impact of new federal and provincial welfare legislation that links literacy to work. However, there is a lack of information on what the legislation actually says, how the new "employment enhancement" policies are being implemented, and how literacy instructors and students are experiencing and responding to these changes. There is also a scarcity of information relating literacy to work, within the context of 'Welfare Reform'.
It is incumbent upon the literacy field to understand the new socioeconomic and political context within which we are working; to identify the perceptions and experiences of both literacy workers and learners in relation to this context; and to begin an examination of the many factors that impact on students' abilities to find and keep a job. The Literacy, Welfare, and Work (LWW) Preliminary Study is an attempt to enhance our understanding of these critical issues and questions.
This study should be viewed as exploratory in nature. It is intended as a "first look'' at the complex relationship between education (specifically adult literacy) and employment. The study will also provide a framework for more extensive long-term research, namely the Literacy, Welfare & Work Longitudinal Research Project (slated to begin in September, 1997). This multi-phase research project will build upon the findings of the Preliminary Study, tracking individual students over time with a view to evaluate the role that literacy training plays in employment.
We hope that this report, and the LWW Longitudinal Research Project as a whole, will contribute to the growing debate within literacy circles and elsewhere on 'welfare reform', education, and work, and that it will become a stepping stone to more extensive discussions and research.
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