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Glossary of Workplace Education Terms

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W

- A -

Accessibility – Extent to which a program or service can be reached by those who want or need them

Action learning - Hands-on approach to teaching and learning in which students work collaboratively to increase their understanding through an active process of "doing and reflecting" on real-life tasks, problems, issues, or assignments

Agriculture/Mining/Construction - Organizations such as agriculture producers: mining, oil exploration, and extraction companies; construction companies; fisheries; and forestry

Annual performance reviews - A systematic, periodic review and analysis of an employee’s job performance by a superior, to compare that performance to a set of predetermined standards, identify strengths and weaknesses, and develop a plan to improve an employee’s performance

Apprenticeship training - A formal process by which individuals learn their jobs through a combination of classroom instruction and on-the-job training from a skilled expert in their specific job.

Assessment - Collecting and analyzing information to make judgments about the needs and learning progress of individuals or groups; also, techniques, devices, or instruments used to collect evidence, ranging from formal and standardized (such as TABE) to criterion referenced tests (CRTs) to alternative (portfolios) to informal (observation checklists)

Authentic materials - Realia or texts that occur in the lives of students outside of the classroom (such as a manual, standard operating procedures -- SOPs, or pay stub) that are used for instructional purposes in the classroom

- B -

Baseline information – Information that is collected before a program begins to provide a basis for planning, implementation, and evaluation

Basic skills course - Development and/or remedial training fundamental to the workplace in courses such as literacy, reading comprehension, writing, math, English as a second language and learning how to learn

Benchmarking – Continuous, systematic process for evaluating products, services, or work processes of programs or organizations for the purpose of improvement

- C -

Career development - Education, support, and employment planning as well as access to services for individuals, ranging from career awareness and exploration, counseling, education and training opportunities and certifications, to long-range "career pathway" plans leading to better jobs, greater job satisfaction or higher pay

Career path - Long-range plan for career growth to better jobs, great job satisfaction or higher pay; systems approach integrating education, training, certification, support, and employment services

CareerLink – Pennsylvania’s one-stop delivery system of employment, education, and training services available to job seekers, those who want to further their careers, and employers; universal access gained virtually through websites and through regional CareerLink sites

CareerLink operators – Responsible for administering CareerLink sites; may range from simply coordinating services providers to being a primary provider of services

Collaborative learning - Education environment that stresses interaction among learners and with instructors, mutual support and respect rather than competition, and the construction rather than transmission of knowledge; learners often work together in pairs or small groups on a common problem

Community partnerships - Linkage and coordination of various public and private community organizations with the goal of creating a collaborative and seamless system to meet the various needs of community members

Computer literacy - Ability to use computer software, including off-the-shelf applications such as word processing, spreadsheets, databases, graphics and communications, among others. Can include ability to use workplace specific software applications. Does not include ability to use computer programming languages

Content standards – Descriptions of the range of desirable knowledge and skills within a subject area

Contextualized instruction - (sometimes referred to as "the funtional context approach") - Developing skills, knowledge, and attitudes drawn from the context in which they will be used, using real-life materials and situations from that context

Continuous improvement – Commitment to improving performance using a team approach to decision making using systematic collection and analysis of performance data

Core services – Refers to universally available services through the CareerLink system for all individuals and employers; core services for individuals include initial assessment, job search assistance, information about labor market, financial aid, providers, and support services. Core services for employers include orientation to CareerLink system, multiple methods to list job openings, access to resumes, job matching, information on training providers, human resources and labor market

Cost-benefit analysis - Process of comparing the costs of establishing an intervention (such as a workplace education program) with the benefits (such as increased productivity, less waste or fewer errors, lower absenteeism, better communication)

Critical incident - Event, action, or behavior in the workplace that is systematically analyzed and discussed to improve behavior or performance

Culture of the workplace - Behaviors, values, and codes that workers use to govern job performance, appearance and interaction with others at work; includes both formal (i.e., written policies) and informal (i.e., hearing through the "grapevine" about another worker's argument with a supervisor)

Customer service training - Training on how to maintain or improve customer relations. Includes repair, upgrading, or maintenance of products. Includes training for customer service and call center operators

Customers – Learners enrolled in adult education programs; in the larger context of the workforce development system, refers to job seekers, those who want to further their career, and employers

Customized instruction - Specially designed curriculum and instruction tailored to meet the specific needs, goals, and interests of a certain group/s (such as employers and workers) or individuals

- D -

DACUM (Developing a Curriculum) – Approach to job task analysis that specifies in detail the tasks that successful workers must perform on the job

Dislocated workers - Workers who have lost their jobs due to layoffs or other economic transitions; one-stop services for dislocated workers include job search and job placement assistance, labor market information, career counseling, employment planning, and access to relevant training and education opportunities

Documentation of individual competencies - A formal record of the knowledge, skills, and abilities of an organization’s employees in key, predefined areas

DOLETA - U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration that administers federal government job training and worker dislocation programs; website provides extensive resources and links for workers, business and industry, and workforce professionals

Durable manufacturing - Manufacturers of durable goods such as wood products, stone and glass, fabricated metal products, machines and electrical equipment, and transportation equipment.

- E -

Electronic mail - The exchange of messages through computers

Electronic Performance Support System (EPSS) - An integrated computer application that uses any combination of expert systems, hypertext, embedded animation, and/or hypermedia to help a user perform a task in real time quickly and with a minimum of support by other people

Employee access to key business information - An organizational policy in which all employees are given access to certain financial and market information about the competitive position of the firm

Employee involvement with management in business decisions - An organizational policy in which management employees have a say in decisions including equipment purchases, market strategy, and management initiatives that affect the firm

Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) - A plan under which the company credits shares of company stock to participating employees. The amount may be available immediately or at retirement

Employer-supported conference attendance - Paid time off or payment of employee travel, hotel, fees, and other expenses attending an off-site conference or training class

Equipped for the Future (EFF) – National Institute for Literacy’s initiative to develop a standards-based approach to reforming the adult literacy field and improving linkages between public and private programs that support adults

Evaluation - Process of collecting and analyzing data on various aspects of a program, usually for the purpose of program planning and goal setting, securing funding, improving processes and outcomes, and allocating resources. Includes formative (collecting and analyzing data to focus on "what's working and what needs to be improved") and summative (collecting and analyzing to investigate "what's been achieved" in a program)

Extranet - A collaborative network that uses internet technology to link organizations with their suppliers, customers and other organizations that share common goals or information

Executive development - Programs that develop the leadership and vision of current and potential senior executives. Such programs focus on responsibilities and challenges for leading corporate-wide initiatives and/ or major business units. Includes strategic planning, policy and goal; setting

- F -

Foundation skills – Essential core skills and knowledge that all emerging, incumbent, and transitional workers need to function effectively and safely in any workplace; they are keyed to effective performance in a broad range of jobs, used together (integrated), and are portable across workplaces; they apply to both those who speak English and those who are learning to speak English as a Second Language (ESL)

Finance/Insurance/Real Estate - Organizations such as banks and other credit institutions, insurance companies, securities brokers, and real estate companies.

Formative evaluation - A method of judging the worth of a program while the program activities are forming or happening. Formative evaluation usually focuses on the process

Fluency - The ability to use a skill with speed and ease

- G -

Gender gap - Under-representation of women in certain education programs (such as math, science, engineering, and technology), occupations, and better paying jobs; equal pay for equal work cannot be achieved if a gender gap exists; recent research suggests that initiatives to close the gender gap are realizing success in certain areas

Government - Federal, state, and local government organizations or agencies

Group/Team-based compensation - An alternative pay system in which employees receive all or a portion of compensation depending on the performance of their particular team or workforce

Groupware - An integrated computer application that supports collaborative group efforts through sharing of calendars for project management and scheduling, collective document preparation, e-mail handling, shared database access, electronic meetings, and other activities

- H -

Health care - Organizations such as hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, and home care companies

Higher order skills - Thinking skills used to integrate basic skills and knowledge to solve problems, make decisions, and better understand information, situations, and people. They include critical and creative thinking as well as metacognition (being aware of and managing one's thoughts and thought processes)

High Performance Organization (HPO) - Workplace in which employees solve problems, improve the work process, and monitor the quality of the product or service through increased communication, feedback, and teamwork; committed to excellence, product quality, and customer satisfaction

Human capital - Knowledge, skills, and abilities of the men and women who comprise a workforce; often related to an organization's efforts to realize and enhance its human capital potential

- I -

Incentive compensation- An alternative pay system in which employees receive all or a portion of compensation depending on their own performance. Examples of incentive compensation systems include piece-rates, sales commissions, and pay-for-performance

Incidental learning - Learning without intent as a side effect of an experience; may be related to frequency and the particular context in which the learning occurred

Incumbent workers – Individuals who are already employed; may include recent hires as well as individuals who have been employed for some length of time

Individual development plans - A specific course of action designed jointly by an employee and a supervisor to outline the employee’s career development objectives and associated training needs

Individualized Education Plan (IEP) - Written education plan for individual learners including action plan, goals and objectives, and timetable; usually developed jointly by educators, counselors, and learners; individualized employment plans will be available through the CareerLink system to enable individuals to plan a career path

Individual training/learning account – established under WIA to focus training spending from block grants to an individual voucher system (Individual Learning Account is PA’s pilot program)

Information technology - Organizations such as computer, electronics, and communications equipment manufacturers; software designers; telecommunications services; and information technology services and consulting firms

Intensive services - Refers to services available through the CareerLink system for individuals and employers. Intensive services are available to adults and dislocated workers who are unemployed or underemployed and include comprehensive assessment, individual employment/education plan, group counseling, individual career planning, and case management. Intensive services for employers include job profiling, seminars and workshops, customized assessments, increase linkages with other employers, and entrepreneurial and federal procurement assistance

Interagency Coordinating Council – Created under the state Adult Basic and Literacy Education Act 42 of 1996 to develop recommendations to improve the delivery and outcomes of basic skills services in the state

Interactive TV - One-way video combined with two-way audio or other electronic response system

Internet - A loose confederation of computer networks around the world connected through several primary networks

Interpersonal communication - Training in communication and cooperation among individuals and groups, including conflict resolution, diversity training, teamwork, and group dynamics

Interpersonal skills - Social and communication skills needed to interact and communicate effectively with others in various contexts

International Standardization Organization (ISO) 9000 - International standards for quality assurance management systems; establishes an organizational structure for ensuring consistent and agreed upon level of quality of production of goods and services; many countries and companies will not do business with companies that do not meet these standards

Intranet - A general term describing any network contained within an organization; used to refer primarily to networks that use internet technology

- J -

Job readiness skills - Skills that signal an individual is ready for employment in general. May include academic, computer, interpersonal, and/or lifelong learning skills

Job-related skills - Skills that are necessary for performance of either a specific job or an occupational area in general. May include academic, technical, interpersonal, and/or lifelong learning skills

Job rotation or cross training - Programs in which employees are trained to do multiple jobs, or employees rotate among different jobs

Job-specific technical training - Skill development that focuses on the procedures, including the use of technology, to create products, deliver services, or engage in business processes. Typically provided to workers who use technology or machinery in their jobs

Job task analysis – Collection and analysis of the component knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to successfully perform all aspects of a task; may include literacy task analysis that focuses on the requisite literacy skills

- K -

Knowledge/skill-based pay - An alternative pay system in which compensation is linked to the mastery of certain skills or work-related information, rather than to employee position or length of tenure

- L -

Learning technologies - Electronic technologies to deliver information and facilitate the development of skills and knowledge

Line-on-loan or rotational training staff - A formal process in which nontraining personnel are assigned training duties such as instruction or course design on a temporary basis

Literacy Task Analysis (or audit) - Systematic approach (similar to job task analysis) to identify and prioritize the basic or foundation skills and knowledge needed to complete a job task; results can be used to develop customized workplace basic skills instruction

Local Area Network (LAN) - A network of computers sharing the resources of a single processor or server within a relatively small geographic area

- M -

Malcolm Baldridge Education Criteria for Performance Excellence – Self-assessment that allows education providers to use criteria to identify organizational strengths and to target key opportunities for program improvement and performance excellence. Measures a wide range of key organizational performance indicators of learner/stakeholder outcomes, education service and outcomes, and operations

Management supervisor - Training to improve the ability and effectiveness of managers and supervisors. Topics include resource management, project and process management, and planning and budgeting

Mandatory annual training time - An organizational policy stating a minimum requirement for the amount of training that certain employees must receive in a given year

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) – An agreement developed and executed between the local workforce investment and all WIA-mandated CareerLink partners relating to the operation of the CareerLink system in the local area; may be developed as a single umbrella MOU or individual agreements with partners

Mentoring - Serving as a model for others who are inexperienced; includes both the physical modeling of a task or behavior as well as the cognitive (thinking) steps required to effectively perform the task or behavior

Multimedia - A computer application that uses any combination of text, graphics, audio, animation, and/or full motion video

- N -

New employee orientation - Training designed to provide new employees with complete and uniform information about the company, organizational functions and policies, compensation, benefits, services, work requirements, standards, rules, safety and employee relations

Nondurable manufacturing - Manufacturers of nondurable goods such as food and beverages, apparel, textiles, plastics and chemicals, paper and pulp, rubber, petroleum products, and leather, includes printers, publishers, and refineries

- O -

Occupational safety/compliance - Training provided to meet environmental health and safety requirements, Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action requirements, right-to -know and government-mandated training

Occupational Skill Standards – Describe what people need to know and the level at which they need to perform in certain jobs within an industry sector. The National Skill Standards Board (NSSB) led this initiative in response the the National Skills Standards Act of 1994 and resulted in an industry-led effort to focus on skill requirements, skill assessments, and certification processes

One-stop operators - Responsible for adminstering one-stop centers; may rnage from simply coordinatiing services providers to being a primary provider of services

Organizational approach - In a workplace education program, examines basic skills within the context of workplace culture and other workplace issues; recognizes that learning and using skills is integrated into all aspects of an organization

Outcome measures – (from National Reporting System for federally-funded adult basic skills programs) include educational gain, entered employment, retained employment, receipt of secondary school diploma or GED and placement in postsecondary education or training

- P -

Participatory approach - All members of a group or organization have the opportunity to contribute through inquiry and reflection to the activities of the group; a democratic process in which the power is shared equally, with individuals having substantial amounts of control and responsibility

Partnerships - Collaborative partnerships establish common goals and agree to pool resources, jointly plan, implement and evaluate partnership activities. Cooperative partnerships involve partners who help each other to meet respective organization goals, without making substantial changes in the services each provide

Peer review of performance or 360 degree feedback - A performance appraisal system in which employees’ work performance is evaluated (at least in part) by coworkers

Performance standards – Benchmarks, or specified levels of achievement, for expectations for educational outcomes that provide a basis for measuring learning outcomes

Private sector - When used in relation to workforce development, refers to a segment of the population that is not part of federal, state or local government infrastructure, such as commercial businesses, community-based organizations, or individuals

Professional skills - Training in a specialized body of knowledge or expertise such as accounting, engineering, manufacturing systems, computer science, optics, electronics, mechanics, material science, chemistry, physics, legal, medical, financial services, banking, and consulting. This category of training is discipline and or industry specific

Profit sharing or gain sharing - A plan under which the company credits shares of company profits or growth to participating employees. The amount may be available immediately or at retirement

Program quality indicator – Program characteristics or practices that provide evidence of the ability of the adult education program to deliver services, to satisfy customer (learner or employer) needs and aspirations, to continuously improve, and to be accountable

Public sector - When used in relation to workforce development, refers to national, state or local government-funded institutions, agencies, and services

- Q -

Quality competition and business practices - Training in Total Quality Management, business process re-engineering, bench-marking, resource planning or business fundamentals

Quality consciousness – Knowing how and why quality standards are set and inspection is performed to ensure quality, how quality is achieved, and one’s role in contributing to quality

Qualitative data - Data that are characterized by narrative description and interpretation; collection and interpretation of data is not constrained by predetermined categories or responses

- R -

Rate – Indicates number of participants the program successfully enrolled and who completed the program; work retention is the number of employees who were retained in a job over a period of time

Release time – When employers allow workers to take time off work to participate in education or training activities; may be paid or unpaid release time

Retention - Efforts engaged in to minimize employee turnover, especially of entry-level employees

Return on Investment (ROI) - A calculation of the financial benefits of a workplace education program in relationship to its cost. It is usually expressed as a percentage of the original investment

- S -

SCANS – Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills: formed in 1990 by the U.S. Department of Labor to examine the skills demands of the modern workplace and determine whether the current and future workforce is prepared to meet those needs. Identified five core competencies (resources, interpersonal skills, information, systems, and technology) and three foundations (basic skills, thinking skills, and personal qualities) that are necessary for workplace success

Services - Organizations such as hotels; business and personal services; automotive repair companies; professional services; educational, legal, social and other consumer services.

Self-directed work teams - Groups of employees with complete responsibility for the quality and quantity or their outputs. Self-directed work teams may have responsibility for work schedules, performance appraisals, personnel management, budgeting, or setting performance targets and production quotas.

Simulator - A device or system that replicates or imitates a real device or system

Situated learning - Instructional approach in which practitioners guide students to think, interact, reflect and solve problems within simulated real-world situations and materials; builds on the concept of cognitive apprenticeship in which students observe instructors (or "experts") who model thinking and problem solving strategies and support students, as needed, and continually observe their growth and progress

Skill certification - A formal process used to ascertain and distinguish the mastery of a set of skills according to predefined standards. May be linked to either a particular occupation or trade, or a particular job or process.

Skill standards - Performance specifications that identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities an individual needs to succeed in a workplace; they define a common language of quality and level of achievement

Statistical Process Control (SPC) - system of charting and analyzing statistical information about the production and service delivery process at several points along the process

- T -

Task analysis - Collection and analysis of the component knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to successfully perform all aspects of a task; may include literacy task analysis that focuses on the requisite literacy skills

Task forces, problem solving teams, or quality circles - Groups of employees that meet regularly to come up with solutions to problems concerning people and productivity.

Teleconferencing - The instantaneous exchange of audio, video or text between two or more individuals or groups at two or more locations

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) - Federal welfare funding created by the Welfare Reform Law of 1996 consisting of block grants to states providing them with greater flexibility in designing programs to help low-income parents move into employment, retain jobs and move toward self-sufficiency

Total Quality Management (TQM) - An integrated approach to organizational improvement and increasing production and service quality whose core ideas include doing things right the first time, striving for continuous improvement, and a devotion to understanding and meeting customer needs.

Training information system - A computer-based system for assessing, tracking, and improving employee performance. Systems may include employee training history reports, training course scheduling and registration, individual development plans, and training expenditure tracking

Training resource center - A designated area within an establishment where training personnel, materials, and information are relocated.

Train-the-trainer courses - Training courses that teach nontraditional training staff members such as managers, subject matter experts, and team leader skills such as instructional design and group facilitation to enable them to deliver formal training to other establishment employees.

Transportation/public utilities - Organizations such as power, water, and gas utilities; trucking and warehousing companies; airlines and railroads; water transportation companies; and parcel services.

Transitional workers – those who lose their jobs because of plant closings or layoffs and those who leave a job for any reason and are seeking employment and/or education and training

Tuition reimbursement - Partial or full payment for courses that employees took at educational institutions (can be either paid to the institutions or reimbursed to employees).

Under-employed adults - Individuals with low wages, part-time work only, or insufficient benefits and supports to provide life-sustaining earnings for themselves and their families

- V -

Value-added outcome - Idea or suggestion that has led to significant savings or improvements in processes or outcomes Waste–scrap or rejection rate of the number of goods or services that did not meet minimum quality standards

Virtual reality - A computer application that provides an interactive, immersive and three-dimensional learning experience though fully-functional, realistic models

Vocational English as a Second Language (VESL) - English language skills needed for a specific occupation, industry cluster, or vocation

Voicemail - An automated, electronic telephone answering system

- W -

Wages of training staff - Wages and salaries of all full-time training personnel, not including benefits, including managers and administrative support

Waste - Scrap or rejection rate of the number of goods or services that did not meet minimum quality standards

Wide Area Network (WAN) - A network of computers sharing the resources of one or more processors or servers over a relatively large geographic area

Worker-centered education - Curriculum and instruction that focuses on workers' experiences and construction of knowledge rather than those of the instructors or employers

"Work First" - Work in exchange for time-limited assistance, i.e., moving TANF recipients to work as soon as they are job ready or no later than two years after receiving assistance

Workforce development - The function of assisting individuals, employers and communities to achieve occupational competencies necessary for competive advantage in a dynamic marketplace

Workforce intermediaries - Networks of individuals who work as brokers, facilitators, and/or interpreters to strengthen the connections and integration of workforce training and education systems to better meet the education and training needs of employers, workers, and communities

Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 – federal legislation designed to coordinate and streamline all components of the nation’s workforce development system, including employment, job training, education, and vocational rehabilitation services for youth (ages 14-21), adults, and dislocated workers

Workforce Investment Board (WIB) - The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) authorizes 1) a state WIB to act as a statewide WIA strategic policy planning and governing body and 2) local WIBs to act as oversight bodies of the activities of the participating agencies in a WIA region

Workforce education – Includes ABE, GED, and ESL services designed to demonstrate a strong relationships between basic skills and the literacy requirements of a changing workplace; improves the foundation skills of adults entering the workforce and dislocated workers as they prepare for job training and employment or new occupations

Workplace education – ABLE programs that are planned and delivered through business/education partnerships and provide customized work-related basic (or foundation) skills instruction to those already employed and in need of more advanced skills to maintain or advance in their jobs

Workplace literacy - Skills needed to respond to literacy demands in the workplace, in order to perform job duties and apply on-the-job training

World Wide Web - All the resources and users on the Internet that use Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP), a set of rules for exchanging files


For additional information, please contact:

Division of Adult Education |
Pennsylvania Department of Education - Postsecondary and Adult Education
333 Market Street, 12th Fl | Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
Phone: 717.787.5532
ra-able@pa.gov | www.education.state.pa.us