One day recently, I heard a news story about the types of jobs forecasted to grow in the next decade. I thoroughly expected to hear about engineering, nanotechnology and the service sectors. Instead, it was stated that the employment of adult literacy and remedial education teachers is expected to grow 15% in the next ten years*. That struck me. Even though I talk about books and information daily, I take for granted the ability to read, as I bet most readers do.
According to Open Books, a nonprofit organization that promotes literacy, 53% of the current adult population in Chicago has low or limited literacy skills. Of course, these adults miss out on great novels and fun beach reads, but they also run into barriers everywhere in daily life. Imagine the difficulty with the dosage instructions on medicine, credit card agreements, nutritional labels, finding a job, choosing light bulbs.
The need to improve reading skills for adults is great, thus the forecast for an increase in jobs for trained teachers. Luckily there are tens, probably even hundreds of organizations that promote literacy in various different ways. Many popular fiction authors and writers donate to literacy. David Baldacci created the Wish You Well Foundation, Nora Roberts supports the ProLiteracy Foundation, columnist Liz Smith is the honorary chairman of Literacy Partners.
Locally, the Oakton Community College VITA (Volunteers in Teaching Adults) program plans to serve over 1100 students in fiscal year 2012. Here at the library, our reading clubs encourage reading and many learners practice with a novel and its corresponding audiobook. Additionally, a large collection of literacy and ESL materials are located on the fourth floor.
I hope it will be soon when I hear the next news story state that literacy rates are 100%.*Bureau of Labor Statistics