retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Financial Times has an interesting story about the British job market, noting that more than 20 percent of employers had to provide “remedial training to new hires because they are insufficiently literate for the workplace.”

In addition, FT writes, the study “found that 22 per cent of employers who hired adult workers above school leaving age in the past year needed to give some of them remedial training in literacy, while 18 per cent gave lessons in basic numeracy. More than four in 10 provided workers with remedial IT training ... the figures for literacy and numeracy were similar for school leavers, although teenagers were less likely than older people to have IT skills gaps.”

According to FT, “The survey follows last year’s complaints by Sir Terry Leahy, chief executive of Tesco, who said companies were ‘often left to pick up the pieces’ when it came to workplace skills for young people because standards were still ‘woefully low in too many schools’.”
KC's View:
I have no idea how the numbers would look if similar studies were conducted in the US, but my suspicion is that literacy levels are just as low here, if not worse. In some ways, this is on view every day in the signs that retailers post around their stores that feature misspellings and bad grammar. (I recognize that I am hardly faultless when it comes to things like misspellings, but I would argue that my business model requires that I work without a net...which is not the same for most retail stores.)

I wonder how much better these employees would be if their employers would encourage them to continue their educations, to require greater levels of literacy and educational engagement. Hard to do, especially in a time when a tight economy makes it hard to invest in basic training, much less employee literacy. But I wonder...