Ask the Experts: Low Literacy Barrier to Apply Not Always Work
Mike Coonrod, sbjLive Producer

Ask the Experts: How Literacy Impacts Workforce Development

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In a tight employment market “I think the first thing is really being more open to hiring someone who struggles with literacy,” says Kristy Frans with the Council of Churches. “Just because they struggle with reading doesn’t mean they’re not going to be a great employee.” A 2016 Missouri Career Center Study showed about  27% of job applicants were reading below a sixth grade level. Frans highlights programs to assist your current employees and future workforce with literacy. Ask the Experts is a monthly series in cooperation with Springfield Business Journal. This is sponsored content.
Duration: 2:10

Video Transcription:

- Today, we're talking about business and I really want to talk about how workforce development can be affected by literacy in our area and what are some of the things that you've seen.

- Yes, so in 2016, there was a study done by the Missouri Career Center which showed that about 27% of those who came through there were reading below a sixth grade reading level.

- Oh my goodness.

- Yeah, so that's a high percentage. How we see that work whenever someone is going to apply for a position, that is looking for a position, the job application process alone can be daunting.

- Yeah.

- And now, with application processes moving online, that's just an extra added barrier, because, think about it, you go online, you're trying to find where the job application is in the first place, it's difficult to find.

- And then going beyond that, it's a struggle for those who are low literate.

- Absolutely.

- Whenever you add on another barrier, that's just another thing that gets in the way of those who are looking for employment and those who are looking to fill their open positions.

- Right, and with the tight workforce that we're in right now, you really have to stop and think about, just because someone may be low literacy doesn't mean that they're going to be a bad worker. They may be a great worker.

- Yes.

- They may be one of the most energetic workers that you have--

- Right.

- Because they want that opportunity so badly. What are some ways that a business can help someone that may be on that lower literacy but might be a great employee?

- I think the first thing is really being more open to hiring someone who struggles with literacy because, just like you said, just because they struggle with reading doesn't mean they're not going to be a great employee. And I think, also, supporting programs that deal with literacy issues, there are adult literacy programs and there are also literacy programs that start with younger children and trying to prevent the issues in the future.

- Absolutely.

- The future workforce development.

- Yeah.

- Investing in those programs, I think, is really important.

- That is amazing.

- Yeah.

- Thank you so much.

- Thank you.

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