States Shake Up Adult Education to Help Low-Skilled Workers

President Barack Obama’s recent proposal to “train 2 million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job” barely scratches the surface of one of the nation’s most vexing labor problems.

The “skills gap” between what employers need and job applicants offer already has become a drag on the economy, with nearly 3 million jobs unfilled even at a time of high unemployment.

Researchers at Georgetown University estimate that by 2018, nearly two-thirds of U.S. jobs will require some education or training beyond a high school diploma but not necessarily a bachelor’s degree. But large swaths of the U.S. labor force lack the basic math and language skills needed to enroll in postsecondary education courses and the career-training programs that many specialized jobs require.

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