(FORTUNE Magazine) – Say you want to set up an on-the-job literacy program. Various experts, consultants, and vendors in every major city will be glad to help you out. For starters it is a good idea to retain a consultant. The best way to find one is to get a referral or two from a company in town that is running a literacy program. Most people sponsoring such programs like to talk about them; you might also visit a class and speak with some of the teachers. If you do not know anybody sponsoring a literacy course, call the adult- education director of your state department of education. Every state has such a director, who can suggest the names of consultants as well as local people active in adult education. Or call the Clearinghouse on Adult Education in Washington, D.C. (202-732-2396), which is part of the U.S. Department of Education. The Business Council for Effective Literacy, in New York City (212-512-2415), may also be able to help you locate knowledgeable people in your community or state. The consultant will doubtless suggest that you pay for a needs-assessment analysis to determine the extent of the problem among your employees. How many have reading and math difficulties, and how severe are the deficiencies? And what are the goals of the program? Generally they are to bring the student up to a 12th-grade reading level, but some companies want employees to master a job-related vocabulary as well. Others are also concerned about executives appallingly at odds with the English language and want courses euphemistically called ''communications'' and ''executive writing.'' Next you have to determine how many students are likely to attend the classes. A survey will provide a guide, but never talk about ''literacy'' or ''illiteracy.'' The term to use is basic skills training. Your consultant will know his way around the local educational establishment. Teachers from the local school system or the local adult-education program often are available on a full-time or part-time basis (in which case they are generally moonlighting). In some cases the local adult-education authority will conduct classes on company premises, and state and federal funds will cover some of the cost; the sponsoring company will have to pay anywhere from less than $500 to more than $1,000 for a ten-week course, with one two-hour session a week for a class of up to 12. Some private vendors of educational services also are equipped to handle an entire program, but charge more.