Reading Requirements. Reading was a daily requirement of both trainees in the vocational preparation courses and of employees involved in this investigation. Although there were variations in time spent on reading and on types of materials read, this skill was required in each of the settings. Students in all preparation programs except for Baker and Business Equipment Services Technician spent much more time per day reading compared to workers in the corresponding occupation. Greater training program use of reading skills is due to the need for presentation of large quantities of information in a limited period of time. Based on estimates from students, instructors, employees and employers, it would appear that trainees spend 2/3 more time per day reading than workers, In some occupations workers reported that they sometimes reread the same material several times per workday.
Readability scores for all training program materials and occupational site materials ranged from a grade 9 to a grade 12 level. For some vocational preparation programs, readability estimates indicated that trainees with the appropriate admission requirements may encounter difficulty in reading the cor-e curriculum. This was the case for the Motor Vehicle Mechanic Cabinet Maker, Business Equipment Services Technician and the Electronics Assembler programs. Readability estimates from the workplace samples closely paralleled the estimates from the training program. The range of scores from both settings were the same for Baker, Welding Fitter, Cook and Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technician. For the other occupations, scores from on-the-job materials were lower than in the training program. Based on this analysis, trainees who were able to read the vocational training materials would be able to read on-the-job reading tasks. It should be mentioned here that reading materials encountered by students and workers participating in the study varied in length, type, level of usage and format. The use of expository and descriptive prose was more frequently observed in the reading tasks required of the training program than of the workplace setting.
Writing Requirements. The writing requirements for the two settings were very different. In the training program writing skills were used for note taking, and writing tests, quizzes, project assignments and examinations. On-the-job writing competencies required only rudimentary skills. It is interesting to note that trainee perceptions of essential writing skills required in the sought after occupation were only minimally the workplace setting. Being able to write pertinent information in work format was perceived by the majority of trainees as an essential skill. In the training program the style of writing was usually formal and technical whereas on-the-job handwritten prose was informal, abbreviated, ungrammatical and often only contained essential information.
In summary, all training and occupation settings investigated in this study required reading at a grade 9 - 12 level and some form of writing skills using a technical vocabulary. As well employees spent much less time reading than trainees. On the average employees spent 65 minutes a day reading which is slightly less than Mikulecky's findings of 97 minutes per day for blue collar workers.
Instructional Recommendations and Strategies
Skills and knowledge are best learned if they are presented in a
context that is meaningful to the person. The more similar the basic
skills training tasks are to the actual job tasks, the greater will be
the likelihood that the training will pay off in improved job
performance. Based on the results of this investigation, reading was
used both as a tool for accomplishing work and as a tool for learning
information on the job and in the training. One approach to better
preparing such trainees in basic education programs is to design
lessons whiCh develop literacy skills and impart job-related
knowledge. The following are a few suggestions that may help
instructors prepare students for success in work roles: