Urgency For Adult Education
Career College Central summary:
Just before Memorial Day Weekend, a group of food service workers on Cape Cod gathered together during their off hours to play video games –and improve their English. Mostly Brazilian-born immigrants, they’d been asked to participate in a pilot version of the new English language games created by Skylab Learning, a startup that’s developed several new gaming apps with “snackable” (5- 10- minute) units with vocabulary specifically tailored for the food service industry.
The games work on laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. Skylab Learning’s job-specific English language apps and other efforts like it are part of a small but growing push to bring attention, innovation and increased effectiveness to adult education – and to help an estimated 36 million low-skill adults improve their employability and long-term economic chances.
As we’ve noted previously, this population is neither incarcerated, unemployed (some two-thirds have work), nor behind the times (one-third are under age 35). They work as food service workers, retail employees, temporary workers, and home health care employees. But their chances of long-term employment or advancement to higher wage levels are severely limited.
Helping millions of low-skill adults and updating and improving the long-ignored adult education sector is a daunting challenge. One in six American adults has low literacy skills, and one in three has low numeracy skills. An additional 60 million Americans “lack the credentials and skills necessary to succeed in postsecondary education,” according to the New America Foundation. But rebooting adult education is an extremely laudable goal and – for high-risk, high-reward policymakers and entrepreneurs – could be a very rewarding one, too.
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