Report (Canada): “The Business Case for Lifelong Learning”: Adult education and Literacy

July 4, 2011

On Canada Day I posted about a report from the US on the impact of adult education on the American economy. I took a bit of flak for posting about the US on Canada Day, so let me make up for it by celebrating the 4th of July with a newly-released report from Canada on the very same topic.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (Canada) has just released, “The Business Case for Lifelong Learning and Job-Based Training”, a 28-page report on the economic impact of lifelong learning and adult education.

The report addresses:

  • Workforce learning and development: A key lever of innovation
  • The economic case for investment in workforce training
  • The role of government in a competitive education and training system
  • Recommendations

You can download a copy of the report here: http://occ.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Workforce-Training-Report_Electronic.pdf

Here is a video (3:17 in length) that introduces the report: http://www.youtube.com/user/OntarioChamber?feature=mhsn#p/a/u/0/jyDt9k0NLCY

Although this report deals specifically with one Canadian province, it may be useful to reference in grant applications, position papers and other research, as it helps to document current trends in the field of literacy and in particular, the economic impact of lifelong learning and adult education.

So, Happy Canada Day (belated), Happy Independence Day. Wherever you are, celebrate lifelong learning and the positive impact it makes on our world!

Related posts:

New Report: The Economic ROI of Adult Education Programs (U.S. report)

The economic impact of language programs on communities

Research: ESL programs boost Calgary’s economy by $26M+ per year

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


New Report: The Economic ROI of Adult Education Programs

July 1, 2011

A new policy paper published by the McGraw-Hill Research Foundation that was developed in collaboration with the United States’ National Council of State Directors of Adult Education and the U.S. National Adult Education Professional Development Consortium states that “a preemptive focus on adult education actually saves governments money by reducing societal healthcare, public assistance, and incarceration costs”.

The report, “The Return on Investment from Adult Education and Training: Measuring the Economic Impact of a Better Educated and Trained U.S. Workforce,” put it in plain simple language by saying that adult education “improves and expands the nation’s available pool of human capital by helping motivated but under educated people achieve gainful employment in today’s increasingly high-tech and global job market, and at a far lower cost per learner when compared to either K-12 or higher education.”

The co-authors Dr. Lennox McLendon (Executive Director, National Council of State Directors of Adult Education and the National Adult Education Professional Development Consortium), Debra Jones (California Director of Adult Education and Chair, NAEPDC Research Workgroup) and Mitch Rosin (Editorial Director, McGraw-Hill School Education Group) have put together a solid 26-page report that is a brilliant combination of statistics and related evidence that ultimately constructs a clear picture of the economic return on investment (ROI) of adult education and literacy programs. The culmination of the evidence they present  fully supports their closing argument:

“Current federal adult education and workforce skills programs need to be better funded, but they also need to be redesigned and connected more effectively to state and local programs. We must have an integrated system of adult education and workforce development that serves millions of Americans in accessible, affordable, and accountable ways – on the job, online, and in the classroom.”

Although this report is focused on the U.S.A. it provides compelling evidence for programs in other countries, too.

This is a report that is worth looking at and sharing.  Download your free copy from here: http://www.mcgraw-hillresearchfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/the-return-on-investment-from-adult-education-and-training.pdf

Related posts:

The economic impact of language programs on communities

Research: ESL programs boost Calgary’s economy by $26M+ per year

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


The economic impact of language programs on communities

September 3, 2010

When cities and communities talk about the industries that contribute to their economy, rarely is education mentioned. That’s because traditionally, education and business have been seen as two distinct sectors. But we know that like it or not, the model is changing. Private language schools, business colleges and technical training institutes – just to name a few types of educational institutions — receive little to no money from government. They must operate like a business in order to keep their doors open. At the same time, they are always under the microscope when it comes to the quality of their programs, as often they are harshly scrutinized by their peers in more traditional programs that are funded, at least in part, by the government.

Nowadays those traditional programs are prodded to recover costs, or even to generate revenue. The traditional schools can learn a lot from the private schools when it comes to operating, budgeting and forecasting.

What both types of schools have in common, I believe, is that generally they are disregarded, however unintentionally, by business and even political or governing bodies when it comes to being seen as a force that contributes significant money to the community of which they are a part. In some cases, language programs housed at large post-secondary institutions are sometimes shunned by the same senior administrators or administrative committees that challenge them to be financially self-sufficient, while the business and science faculties never worry about such matters. I believe that part of the reason is that we ourselves do not view what we do as business, and as a result, we don’t always recognize the value that we contribute to our own communities.

I would suggest that language schools and programs today are in a unique position. The reality is that we are being asked to recruit more students, generate revenue and be self-sustaining. At the same time, they must maintain the highest of academic standards. Those who run them are both educators and business people. And sometimes it seems the rest of the world simply has not caught up when it comes to respecting the work that we do and the reality of our business. Before we can ask others to do this, we must do it for ourselves.

In August, 2003 I was interviewed on the local TV news about the effect that the war in Iraq, SARS, mad cow disease and West Nile Virus had on language school enrollments in Calgary, the city where I live. Before the interview, I did some basic research about language schools in my community and I was surprised by the results. I found out that the decrease in student enrollment due to these events could have a significant economic impact.

Let me say now that these estimates were my own calculations, based on my knowledge of the local market and experience working in the industry in this city at the time. Here are what my estimates showed:

Information and research about language schools in Calgary, Alberta, Canada (2003)

* There are about 50 language schools and programs in and around Calgary. This includes private schools, programs at post-secondary institutions and other programs. It does not include private tutors or home-based language classes

*  Most foreign students who came here to study English are from Japan, Korea, Mexico and Taiwan. Many came in groups and are recruited by agents.

* In summer, about 1500 foreign students were in Calgary each month to study English. Schools are not required to release enrollment data and I based this number on my knowledge of the language study industry in Calgary. But if you take 50 language schools and divide it by 1500 students, you can easily see that this is a conservative estimate of 30 students per school, per month. Most schools may have had many more than that number and others would have  had just a few.

* In the remaining months, that drops to about 750 students per month. This is also a very conservative average of 15 students per school, per month.

I used conservative numbers on purpose, so as not to artificially inflate the numbers generated in the next portion of the research – the economic impact of language students studying in our city:

* Each student will spend approximately $2500 per month during their stay, calculated as follows:

$1000 tuition and books for a full-time program of 25 hours per week (includes examinations and other supplies.)

$750 homestay / accommodation and food

$750 travel, entertainment and shopping (about $187.50 per week, including transit fares, excursions to local attractions, dinners out, visits to local bars, movies, museums, activities, summer festivals, souvenirs, day trips out of town, etc.)

Using these numbers, I estimated that foreign students added $3,750,000 to Calgary’s economy each month during the summer (July and August) and another $1,875,000 during each of the other ten months of the year. That’s an estimated grand total of $26,250,000 that foreign students add to Calgary’s economy each year when they come here to study full time in a language school.

To add some perspective to those numbers, you’ll want to remember that at the time that informal study was conducted Calgary’s population was expected to reach 1 million people. It has since surpassed that number. Ours is a fairly wealthy whose economy is driven by oil and gas and ranching, as well as tourism and sports, among other industries.

There are larger cities in Canada like Vancouver and Toronto. I wonder how much money that language schools generate for their economies? What does your language school or program contribute to your city’s economy? What do all the language schools in your city or province contribute to its economy? I have long wanted to conduct a study on the economic impact of ESL programs across Canada. My hypothesis is that it education professionals, government representatives and business people alike would be astounded at the results.

By educating ourselves on how much we contribute to our local economy, we become aware that we are inter-connected with the greater community and it benefits from our “business”. In a city like Calgary where the main industry is oil and gas, $26 million may not be much, but I can assure you that if I asked 100 people in our city how much they thought foreign language students contribute to our economy, they wouldn’t even come close to guessing that much.

Who is financially affected when language school enrollment drops?

* language schools  (ESL programs, in particular)

* language teachers (Most work on contract and when there are no students, there are no jobs)

* local families who act as host families and get paid to billet students

* restaurants, bars, movie theatres

* the tourist industry

* the transit systems (bus, subway, etc.)

The next time you need to make a pitch to senior administration for more space; the next time you try to negotiate a special deal on bus passes for students at your school or the next time you have trouble arranging a group rate for your students to go to a museum, have your own estimates in hand. If you don’t have those estimates, hire someone to help you calculate them.

Share your research with others in your community. Make a presentation at your local Chamber of Commerce, community meeting or faculty council. This will benefit you in three ways. First, you will gain publicity for your own school. Second, you will help to educate others in the community about exactly how much the language school “business” contributes to your local economy. Finally, you may start a dialogue between different stakeholders of your community about this very topic, which is even more important than simply giving them facts.

If we are going to be asked to operate and think like businesses, then we deserve the respect that is due to an industry that can contribute significant amounts of money to our local economy. Not only do we educate students, we contribute positively to the economy of our own community in the process. In fact, I would say that it is our responsibility as language school administrators and marketers to be aware of the impact we have beyond the doors of our own schools and into the greater community.

What is your language school worth? I challenge you to figure it out. I think you’ll be surprised.

(This article was adapted from a previously published article that appeared in “Language School Marketing and Recruitment e-newsletter, March 15/04”, Vol. 2, Issue 6. © 2004. This research was later presented at a forum at the University of Calgary in 2006. Download a copy of the research paper from ERIC.)

Related posts:

Research: ESL programs boost Calgary’s economy by $26M+ per year 

New Report: The Economic ROI of Adult Education Programs

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Share this post: The economic impact of language programs on communities http://wp.me/pNAh3-2x

Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Research: ESL programs boost Calgary’s economy by $26M+ per year

September 2, 2010

How much money do ESL students bring into our city every year? That’s a question I asked myself a few years ago. I undertook an informal study to answer the question. I presented the results at an educational research forum at the University of Calgary. Then I dove right back into my PhD studies and examination preparations, leaving the study to gather dust.

I found the paper a little while ago and wanted to share it with you. I’ll be honest and say that the study was very informal, conducted out of a burning desire to have the research question answered, nothing more. I’d love to develop the work more fully at some point. If you know of others researching the economic impact of second and foreign language programs – particularly English as a Second Language, please leave a comment!

You can download the full paper from ERIC here:

Business with words: Language programs that generate revenue and impact communities

URL: http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=ED511632

Sarah Elaine Eaton, Ph.D. candidate
Presentation given at the Educational Research Forum
Faculty of Education, University of Calgary
July 18, 2006

Abstract
This paper examines the examines the  “business” of language programs. In particular, it focuses on the economic impact of English as a Second language programs physically located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada which draw and serve foreign students.  The impact such programs have on the wider community will also be explored. The results show that foreign students who study ESL in Calgary contribute a grand total of $26,250,000 to the city’s economy each year.

Read the whole paper (9 pages) on Scribd:

Business With Words

View this document on Scribd

Related posts:

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


“UCLA report details recession’s impact on schools”

June 21, 2010

On June 21, 2010 he San Francisco Examiner reporter, Terence Chea, wrote “UCLA report details recession’s impact on schools“. The article gives highlights from a study conducted by UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access. The study “interviewed 87 elementary, middle and high principals across California to gauge the impact of the recession and budget cuts on student welfare and school learning environments.”

The study found that:

  • 62 percent of principals reported that teachers in their schools had been laid off, threatened with layoffs or reassigned to other schools. The number of actual layoffs was four times greater at schools in poorer communities than wealthier communities.
  • 67 percent reported that class sizes had increased, with 74 percent of elementary school principals reporting larger class sizes.
  • 75 percent reported that summer school had been reduced or eliminated.
  • 75 percent reported reductions in instructional materials and supplies.
  • 70 percent reported cuts to professional development programs.
  • 67 percent reported growing housing insecurity, which includes homelessness, families moving in together and families moving away for economic reasons.
  • 51 percent reported an increase in the health, psychological or social service needs of their students.

Read more…

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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