Preparing for Work: An EFF Work Readiness Curriculum Teacher's Guide and Student Manual is based on the Equipped for the Future (EFF) U.S. adult literacy education content standards, and the U.S. Secretary's Commission for the Advancement of Necessary Skills (SCANS) competencies. It is a contextualized work readiness curriculum for adults and older, out-of-school youth, especially those seeking their first job. It integrates both "soft" skills and academic skills and is founded in EFF's previous research-based work, the EFF Worker Role Map and the EFF Content Standards, which link the curriculum, instruction and achievement of real-world outcomes.
The goals of Prepaing for Work: An EFF Work Readiness Curriculum are to (1) develop work readiness skills for a wide variety of entry-level positions; (2) learn new skills and take responsibility for learning on the job; (3) apply skills in a variety of contexts (work, home, community); and (4) prepare participants for entry-level jobs that do not require advanced training or education.
The curriculum includes a Teacher's Guide and a Student Manual, and is composed of six modules: Orientation, Work with Others, Solve Problems, Allocate Resources, Acquire and Use Information, and Use Systems. The Student Manual begins with the EFF Worker Role Map and EFF Skills Wheel, common to all EFF curricula, and includes large-print tables that students complete to help them reflect on their learning, life and work experience, their learning goals; and to help them inventory their listening and speaking skills, teamwork skills, values related to work, conflict-management and problem-solving skills, work-related math and reading skills, and planning skills. The manual also includes work readiness readings that familiarize students with what to expect in the world of work. The materials in the Student Manual are provided in a separate document for review by the instructor but also in electronic format for reproducing for learners. The Teacher's Guide provides the objectives and summary, as well as thumbnails of the student activities. The training around the orientation module (i.e. introducing the role maps, skills wheel, etc.) is vital to understanding the pedagogy and effective implementation of this orientation module.
Each of the six modules begins with EFF standards and SCANS tasks. Lessons include an introduction and a review of the previous module, role plays, simulations, worksheets, and short case studies. The modules integrate work-related math and reading, as well as "soft" skills. The last module, Use Systems, focuses on the big picture of working, and includes central tendency math measures (mean and median) used for understanding systemic work-related issues, work safety, gender issues at work, and work-related health issues, and for understanding an organization and its communications systems and customer service issues, among others. Each module ends with a reflection called a "closing." Both the Teacher's Guide and the Student Manual are currently being reformatted, and the Table of Contents has been revised to be more specific and comprehensive. The revised version of the curriculum was scheduled to go to press in July.
EFF is conducting an ongoing longitudinal study of the outcomes of two of its three demonstration programs and is currently collecting and tracking data and outcomes from these sites. To date, there are no formal evaluation results available.
The EFF Preparing for Work curriculum is well organized and based on content standards developed over a decade of work by staff in the EFF project sponsored by the U.S. National Institute for Literacy. These standards are used, or have been adapted by many states across the U.S. The standards are enhanced by the inclusion of SCANS [U.S. Secretary's Commission for the Advancement of Necessary Skills] tasks and competencies, and enriched by a learning/teaching approach that is experiential, through a range of learning activities, and does not rely heavily on teacher lecture, presentation or demonstration, and that has many high-interest activities, readings and exercises.
The EFF curriculum is especially useful for learners who need to improve their basic reading and writing skills while also preparing for their first job. However, it is not especially designed for those who are learning English as a second or other language or for those in other (especially non-western) countries and cultures. It is contextualized to practices found in the U.S. or perhaps in North America. It is also not specific to any particular vocation, industry or sector. This curriculum offers generic skills and knowledge needed for the world of work in a modern economy.
Overall, Preparing for Work: An EFF Work Readiness Curriculum Teacher's Guide and Student Manual is a strong, well thought out set of materials. It is research based, focuses on standards, and tries to identify the essential skills and knowledge necessary for youth to be able to work and further themselves academically or in their jobs. While the activities are very practical and participatory for the most part, some sessions felt a bit too academic. For example, the orientation module introduces participants to the EFF Worker Role Map, the EFF Skills Wheel, the EFF standards, etc. It seems like this could be a bit overwhelming at first.
The activities in general seem like they will be easy for trainers to follow. The layout is clear and consistent. It would be better if there were session names that summarized the topic being covered. Without that, the Table of Contents does not look very inviting or exciting. In the Student Manual, it would be easier to follow if the modules were demarcated and the sessions had names. It would also feel more complete and less like a collection of worksheets if the Student Manual contained the objectives or summary of each module. The activities are participatory and engaging, and build off of participants' existing skills and knowledge when possible. There are a variety of methods that are suggested and there are good suggestions in the Instructor Notes in the margins.
© 2010-2012 Education Development Center, Inc.