Monday, December 19, 2005

Holiday Reading and more on the literacy stats

Hey cyber-world,

Piece of interest from today's news below on my favorite issue re: the links between literacy and other social issues - in this case, health and employment. On my personal literacy front thought I`d let you know I'm busy reading what is soon to be a classic: Sophie Kinsella's "Shopaholic and Sister".

Nothing like a bit of mindless reading for the Holidays. Was also interested to find out that Lynne Truss has another book out.

Some of you may know her as the Author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves - which is a book about the sorry state of grammar in the English Language. Her new book is entitled "Talk to the Hand" and the blurb on the book, courtesy of her website is:

Why hasn’t your nephew ever thanked you for your carefully selected gift? What makes your contractor think it’s fine to snub you in the midst of a major renovation? Why do crowds spawn selfishness? What accounts for the appalling treatment you receive in stores (if you’re lucky enough to get a clerk’s attention at all)? Most important, what will it take to roll back a culture that applauds those who are disrespectful? In a recent US survey, 79 percent of adults said that lack of courtesy was a serious problem. For anyone who’s fed up with the brutality inflicted by modern manners (or lack thereof), Talk to the Hand is a colorful call to arms—from the wittiest defender of the civilized world.

And on a bloggy note - I was very excited to learn how to not only post photos to the menu, but also link from them! Please take a moment to oooh and ahhh over the literacy site button at the bottom of the menu. In the near future I plan to play with banners on the site - thought I might try to add a Make Poverty History Banner even though the year's almost up (as a tester - WUSC Carleton, as well as the Student Associations, have been advocating the cause this year) and I am considering doing a short "Best of the SFLO blog" along the side.

I sense that you are all as excited about this as I am. Really.



PUBLICATION: Montreal Gazette
DATE: 2005.12.19
SOURCE: CanWest News Service

Literacy literally pays off: Leads to better jobs. Link found to health, quality of life: survey

Literacy pays, and in many ways.

Not surprisingly, Canadians with higher literary skills have higher rates of employment and earnings, according to a study by Statistics Canada. However, it also found they tend to be healthier than those with the lowest literacy levels, are more involved with their communities, and more likely to be taking courses to further upgrade their skills and knowledge.

In contrast, those with the lowest literary skills were also the least likely to be taking skills or education courses, suggesting those who most need to improve those skills are the least likely to do so.

"The people who have the skills are the people who are able to get training, especially employer-supported training, and thus able to maintain or increase their skills, while those who don't have the skills don't get that opportunity," Jean Pignal, national study manager for the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey, said in an interview.

That suggests the gap between those who have good literacy skills and those who don't will widen, he said.

The survey of 23,000 Canadians age 16 and older "found a clear link between proficiency in literacy and an individual's employability," it said, noting people with low literacy skills tend to have lower rates of employment, and tend to work in occupations with lower skill requirements.

The survey, conducted in 2003, tested Canadian proficiency in four areas - prose literacy, document literacy, numeracy and problem-solving - and rated them from one, the lowest, to five, the highest.

Nationally, the employment rate rose with literacy skills.

For example, only 57 per cent of those with the lowest document literacy skills were employed, a proportion that rose to 70.2 per cent for those with the second-lowest level, to 76.4 for those at Level 3, and to 81 per cent for those at the top two levels.

The relationship between literacy and employment was widespread across the country.

About 62 per cent of employed Canadians had average document literacy scores at Level 3 or above, the threshold for coping in a knowledge-based world, it said. In contrast, more than 50 per cent of the unemployed had document literacy scores below Level 3.

"People who work in more knowledge-intensive jobs, including such occupations as accountants, lawyers, economists, medical doctors, mathematicians, architects, college and university educators, tend to have higher proficiency in literacy and numeracy," it said.

"In addition, the higher the proficiency in literacy, the more workers tend to earn, particularly women."

Nearly one-third of men who were earning at least $60,000 a year were at the highest level of prose literacy, while only 15 per cent were among those earning less than $20,000, it said.

"The difference was even greater for women," it said, noting about one-half of women earning $60,000 or more were at the highest level of prose literacy, compared with only 19 per cent who earned under $20,000.

There may also be a link between literacy and health, and in turn quality of life, the survey noted. Those who reported being in poor physical health scored lower in document literacy than did those reporting better health, it said. Also, about half of those over age 65 where the average document literacy score was at the lowest level, also reported being in poor physical health.


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