The Literacy Gap

To close it -- and to open the eyes of millions of workers -- U.S. companies are spending hundreds of millions every year as educators of last resort

Anyone who has hired new employees or tried to retrain veteran ones is painfully aware of the problem. As much as a quarter of the American labor force -- anywhere from 20 million to 27 million adults -- lacks the basic reading, writing and math skills necessary to perform in today's increasingly complex job market. One out of every 4 teenagers drops out of high school, and of those who graduate, 1 out of every 4 has the equivalent of an eighth-grade education. How will they write, or even read, complicated production memos for robotized assembly lines? How will they be...

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