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Foundational Skills in the Service Sector

Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, National Skills Coalition, February 2017

Across the US, millions of workers with limited reading, math, or digital problem-solving skills hold jobs across the service sector – in retail shops, restaurants, hotels and hospitals. These workers need to read vital directions, follow safety protocols, calculate prices, supervise colleagues, and oversee budgets – tasks that are extremely challenging for workers who don’t have strong literacy or numeracy skills.  This report offers a fresh analysis of rigorous data, painting a picture of the approximately 20 million American workers employed in key service-sector industries who lack foundational skills. It highlights promising practices and interventions used by U.S. employers to help their workers to upskill, and details key policy levers that can foster economic mobility for these workers.  (40 pages, with an initial 5-page executive summary)