The Skills Gap & Adult Learners: What’s The Real Story?
LiteracyCNY participated in a Community-Wide Forum in celebration of Adult education and Family Literacy Week on September 21, 2015 at 3 PM at ProLiteracy.
The panel includesd Congressman John Katko; Tim Penix, SUNY Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center (SEOC); Dominic Robinson, CenterState CEO; Marsha Tait, LiteracyCNY; Peter Waite, ProLiteracy; and Hussein Yerow, SEOC Student.
More details here: AEFL Week Skills Gap Policy Panel Flyer 2015
In answer to the following question, LiteracyCNY Executive Director Marsha Tait’s comments are below.
Describe the adult education system in Onondaga County, including LiteracyCNY. How do these programs help adults with very limited literacy skills and English proficiency to become prepared to enter the workforce and achieve sustainable employment?
*The Adult Education system in Onondaga County consists of 4 programs that receive state funding and several community based programs (like the North Side Learning Center and The Learning Place) that are philanthropically funded. The four state-funded programs are: LiteracyCNY, OCM-BOCES, the Syracuse City School District, and the Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center.
*My comments today will address all of the programs, but if you’d like more information about LiteracyCNY, please see my staff – Betsy Lang and Robin Morgan.
*We must recognize that adult education students are not a homogenous group; they come to us with different levels of skill, varying availability, outside obligations and responsibilities, and sometimes, serious life challenges.
*While it may seem complex from the outside, each adult education programs offers unique instructional opportunities to adults in our community. For example, my program, LiteracyCNY, exclusively serves adults who read, write or speak English at or below a 6th grade level. Our instruction is geared to the individual needs of those students, and our goal is to help them to prepare to go on to higher level educational or job training programs – and includes soft skills content.
*OCM-BOCES, the Syracuse City School District, and the SEOC offer these higher level opportunities. OCM BOCES serves students outside of the City, SCSD serves students within the City, and the SEOC serves students regionally (but with an income limitation). Other community-based programs offer drop-in opportunities, family literacy programs, and other unique services.
*We regularly refer students to each other using a variety of tools, and we strive to make our referrals as easy as possible for our students – but continuous improvement is always our goal.
*Most economic development initiatives here focus on the higher-level student; that is, one who is almost ready for high school equivalency, job training, or even college. I believe that if we truly want to address poverty in Onondaga County and help more adults to become self-sufficient and contribute meaningfully to the economy, we must invest more in educating the more than 60,000 adults who have only the most limited literacy and English language skills here. National research demonstrates that this is an investment that will pay off!
*Candidly, the only thing holding us back is resources. We need more money to serve more students.