What constitutes workplace information literacy is still a subject of research, as evidenced in
the subject literature. The need for workplace information literacy is motivated by the
challenge that today’s workplace faces abundant information and that employees need to be
information literate. Without proper information literacy skills, organisations will miss out on
competitiveness, sustainability and keeping track with global trends.
Workplace information literacy is regarded as an essential skill for the new knowledge
economy and therefore organisations, government and business, and especially tertiary
institutions, should harness opportunities to address and promote workplace information
The purpose of this research is to unfold the concept ‘workplace information literacy’. What it
proposes to achieve in terms of the literature and data collected so as to develop and present
a framework. From the subject literature there is little evidence that workplace information
literacy is promoted in South Africa. International literature indicates that some strides have,
however, been accomplished in this regard.
The study was conducted using the Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT) as a
case study. The university consists of two campuses, namely the Bloemfontein campus and
the Welkom campus. The study sought to examine current practices internationally, nationally
and the need for workplace information literacy at CUT.
Mixed method research (qualitative and quantitative) was used was used for the study. For
interview (qualitative) purposes, a sample of 20 top managers, senior managers and
managers was selected. The reason for selecting managers was that they are the university’s
decision makers. A tape recorder was used to capture the data (4 participated in individual
interviews and interviews with committees; there are thus 24 entries in Table 1.3). A total of
200 copies of a questionnaire (as a quantitative data collection instrument) was distributed to
lecturing and support services staff, with 136 questionnaires being returned. Only 121 of the
questionnaires were completed. The purpose was to determine the workplace-related information needs experienced by workers, their workplace information literacy skills and
abilities as well as current practices at CUT. Opinions were offered as to the importance and
value of workplace information literacy for organisations. The need for workplace information
literacy was regarded by both interview participants and questionnaire respondents as very
important. Training needs were addressed as well as how such training could be conducted.
The fact that workplace information literacy should form part of the CUT corporate strategy
was also mentioned. From the data collected and analysed, suggestions and
recommendations alluded to factors that are important regarding a framework for workplace
information literacy. Various intervention mechanisms were suggested in both interviews and
questionnaires. The roles that committees could play in ensuring that workplace information
literacy is adopted were also stated.
A workplace information literacy framework with related components was developed. The
components comprised institutional buy-in, needs analysis, situation analysis, strategic plan,
and alignment with corporate strategy including formulation of policy, programme design and
development, programme administration, awareness-raising and marketing, and on-going
monitoring and evaluation. Each component outlined ways in which it could be implemented.