Voices from the workface : perspectives from a local authority workplace literacy programme
This research is an in-depth study of a single workplace which investigates the following questions: 1. What were the needs, interests and aspirations of participants in a workplace literacy programme for local authority employees? 2. What strategies were adopted to meet these needs? 3. Were they successful? 4. What are the implications of the findings for wider policy and practice? The research uses a qualitative approach within a case study framework. The primary research method is semi-structured interviews with 11 workers who were students on an adult literacy programme, and 9 other people whose roles were relevant to the programme. The principal findings under each question were 1. The primary concerns related to gaining skills to enable employees to improve their current work situation, secure new employment, for wider life situations, and to access further learning opportunities; the research also demonstrated that whilst employers, employees and trade unions shared some interests, differing needs and priorities created some tensions. 2. The programmes adopted an empowerment approach that aimed to boost confidence and self-esteem and enhance critical, analytical and problem-solving skills alongside a contextualised approach to developing reading, writing and sophisticated oracy skills. 3. Students progressed in the above areas and as a result significant benefits accrued to individuals, their employer and the trade union; these included improved performance, morale and industrial relations, adoption of new literacy practices and heightened aspirations for learning and employment. 4. Implications for policy and practice drawn from the research, although tentative because of the small-scale nature of the study, included broadening engagement strategies, devising additional context-specific curriculum and teacher training guidance, and extending union good practice in employee engagement to curriculum development.