America’s workers are the backbone of our nation’s economy. When we invest in the skills of our people, we are investing in the stability of our families and communities, the productivity and growth of our industries, and our long-term economic health.
Public policy often does not recognize that a wide range of workers enter the labor market in different ways and with different needs: young people entering an apprenticeship, low-wage working adults enrolling in community college, trade-impacted union workers re-training for a new occupation, limited English speakers, or ex-offenders re-entering the workforce. Eighty-eight million adults currently in the workforce (57 percent) have low literacy, limited English proficiency or lack an educational credential past high school. These needs must be accounted for in our state and federal education and training policies.
Furthermore, two-thirds of people who will be in the workforce in the year 2020 were already working adults in 2005—long past the traditional high school-to-college pipeline. For that reason, we must invest in training and education not just for young people, but also for adults who are working or could be working today.
One policy strategy to address this challenge: Career pathways
Career pathways expand access to workforce education and training for all workers by better aligning adult basic education, job training and higher education systems to create pathways to postsecondary educational credentials for people while they continue to work and support their families. Career pathways ease transitions between programs and across institutions; expand investments in education and training, particularly for “non-traditional” students; and provide supports and services that allow individuals enrolled in education and training programs to succeed.
Click here to learn about career pathways and National Skills Coalition’s national skills strategy.