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Adult Education and Workplace Literacy

Whether you are settling into a new job or have been employed for several years, the challenges for employees who use English as a second language w can be somewhat difficult. To help employees develop their English language skills, employers have been helping workers become more productive and prosperous in their working environment with site-based adult literacy training.

Workplace Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) is the Texas Workforce Commission's (TWC) employer-based adult literacy initiative providing instrumental services advancing basic literacy, adult education and English language skills for employees. In partnership with Workforce Solutions boards, Workplace AEL engages with employers in designing an adult education curriculum to improve the productivity of the workplace.

Workforce Solutions has eight AEL providers conducting approximately 30 site-based literacy classes. The AEL providers work directly with employers to create a customized workplace literacy training program. One example of this is the longstanding educational partnership, between the Harris County Department of Education (HCDE) and Marek Brothers Construction who collaborated to develop a successful literacy program.

HCDE designed a 6-week Safety English as a Second Language (ESL) class which combined classroom and distance learning platforms. Students practiced their English language skills on the job where they matter most. For the class materials, instructors used Marek Brothers' documents and forms to help build reading comprehension, English language literacy, and writing skills.

The Integrated Education and Training program included reading blueprints. This critical skill is part of the National Craft Assessment and Certification Program Basic and Advanced Drawings test module. Being able to read and understand blueprints and schematics in English is necessary for passing this certification, and so providing workers with an opportunity to learn English has been invaluable to not only to employers, but also to employees.

HCDE also created a "Math for Construction" class to assist Marek employees in preparing for construction certifications. These types of trainings that build work-related skills also build long-term relationships between employees and their company, and vice versa. Site-based training for the ESL workforce represents a tremendous double positive. 90 percent of the employees who receive work-site training retain their employment and many seek advancement opportunities.

"The Integrated Education and Training model is a win-win for employers because it leads to greater productivity and employee retention," said HCDE Adult Education Director Dr. Eduardo Honold. "It often translates into opportunities for advancement and better pay."

Developing a unique model of adult education and literacy curriculum for employers does more than improve productivity, it opens the door for workers to become successful in the workplace.