Millions of working adults, including many who have earned a high school diploma, have low literacy, numeracy and digital problem-solving skills — and this problem won’t just “age away.”
According to the Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success, half of workers with limited skills are under the age of 45. And while many of these workers are employed in growing sectors such as healthcare, construction and hospitality, they’re not able to access the critical learning opportunities that stoke career advancement.
That’s the impetus for a bill introduced in September by U.S. Senators Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. The co-sponsors of the Career and Technical Education for Adult Learners Act say the bill is intended to provide adults more pathways to better lives.
That goal could hardly be more important. Nearly two-thirds of American jobs now require a postsecondary credential — and, quite clearly, focusing only on individuals already in the educational pipeline won’t solve the problem of having too many people without the knowledge and skills they need to get ahead.
The bill already has one important backer: The Center for Law and Policy is already pledging to be outspoken in support of the act, which the center says would:
- clarify that adult education providers that also offer career and technical education programs are eligible to receive funds under the Perkins Act.
- ensure that programs funded under the Perkins Act are aligned with adult education programs and industry sector partnerships authorized under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
- promote the evidence-based educational strategy known as Integrated Education and Training.
- include adult education in state plans for career and technical education.
- allow states to develop core performance indicators for adult learners that align with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
- encourage a greater emphasis on work experiences as part of career and technical education programs