Consulting, Publishing, Engineering

Illiteracy in the U.S.

The local paper carried an A.P. story about U.S. illiteracy yesterday. They estimate that about 1 in 20 people in the United States can’t read English well enough to do simple things like read a bus schedule or understand instructions on a prescription label.

Then today, there was a story from Bloomberg News about the cost of this lack of literacy – in dollars estimated in the billions, and maybe more importantly, in the loss of jobs to other countries with higher literacy rates.

ProLiteracy Worldwide, in an Octboer report, cited a litany of examples, including Toyota Motor Corp.’s decision in June to build its newest North American manufacturing plant, with 1,300 jobs, in Canada. Several U.S. states offered Toyota more than double the Canadian incentives, ProLiteracy Worldwide said. Yet Gerry Fedchun, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturer’s Association, said Toyota hoped to avoide the expensive training faced by Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co., which had to use pictorials when training workers to use high-tech equipment in their Alabama plants.

The one thing that neither article addresses is what to do about this.

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