Implications for future programme development
According to respondents, no extra training (in a technical sense) is required for conducting the Literacy Screener. However, the person conducting the test does need social skills, because low basic skills are often accompanied by feelings of shame. An implication for programme development is that steps should be taken to ensure that staff members are empathetic and have good interview skills in order to deal with the issue of shame.
Implications of policy
In the Netherlands, there are no formal criteria for guidance practitioners and thus a great divergence in quality between various service points. Three of the four pilot organisations deploy unpaid workers (volunteers or trainees) to administer the Literacy Screener. The organisations are of the opinion that these workers are sufficiently able to do so because the Literacy Screener is easy to administer. If organisations wish to deploy unpaid workers, this is subject to the condition that they are properly supervised.
An advantage of the deployment of volunteers and trainees is that they may appear less intimidating to clients. A disadvantage is that continuity is more easily jeopardised as they stay only temporarily (trainees in particular).
Implications for policy
The structure of GOAL in the Netherlands may have implications for policy more broadly. If policymakers can foster an environment in which more organisations see it as their responsibility to contribute to literacy and numeracy gains, this may in turn encourage organisations to make time for Literacy Screeners, and to support the development of screener administrators’ competencies in this area. In order to accomplish this, it is important for organisations, in particular businesses, to see the returns. If they can be persuaded that improved language proficiency will lead to fewer accidents and more productivity (amongst other positive outcomes), they will see the benefit of investing in their employees’ language proficiency. This investment should be incorporated in their policy.