Column: Partnerships help adults acquire job skillsSixty percent of adults in the United States face at least one educational barrier to obtaining a job in today’s economy.
By: Theresa Luther-Dolan, The Republican Eagle
Sixty percent of adults in the United States face at least one educational barrier to obtaining a job in today’s economy. These potential and current workers are non-high school graduates, low-skilled graduates or have limited English proficiency.
In 1950, 80 percent of U.S. jobs were unskilled. But as of 2010, that number has reversed and more than 85 percent of U.S. jobs are now considered skilled.
There are many unfilled roles for candidates who are simply not qualified. This is becoming a growing problem as more than three out of five employers in the U.S. have trouble filling jobs with appropriate skilled workers.
For over 25 years, Hiawatha Valley Adult Basic Education or HVABE has been serving low-skilled adults by providing free basic academic programs in reading, writing and math for college readiness, job skills and GED preparation, a comprehensive test that measures high school equivalency and is recognized nationwide by colleges and employers.
The HVABE consortium serves Red Wing, Goodhue, Zumbrota-Mazeppa, Cannon Falls, Kenyon-Wanamingo, Lake City and Wabasha-Kellogg school districts.
Collaborations between Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical and HVABE have increased opportunities for low-skilled adults in the adult basic education program not only to improve their basic academic skills but also to streamline the process for accessing career pathways training at the college. Through a cooperative agreement, the HVABE classroom is on the Red Wing Southeast Technical campus and adults who participate have equal access to the facilities on campus and get help with navigating the admission process to enroll in the college.
HVABE has a formal orientation for every new enrollee that includes career planning and an individual learning plan. Once the individual’s skill gaps and academic needs are identified, a personal education plan is created outlining the academics necessary for their chosen career occupation.
HVABE and Southeast Technical College have worked together to develop programs that have better academic results for the low-skilled adult. Having a classroom on campus is one way to help adults feel comfortable in transitioning to college.
However, the partners have implemented multiple other programs this fall semester.
When adults apply to Southeast Technical, they must complete an entrance exam called Accuplacer. Based on the results, many adults are placed in remedial math and/or English reading and writing classes due to their low academic skills. Those who are required to complete the remedial classes often get discouraged and drop out of their college training program, because they are not eligible to take the credit bearing courses in their chosen career pathway until they have completed the remedial level courses.
Through a grant secured by Southeast Technical, the college faculty and HVABE staff have implemented a new team-teaching pilot model for special remedial classes, in which both an ABE teacher and a college teacher work alongside each other to provide the basic remedial instruction.
No one participating in this integrated teaching model has dropped out, meaning that the students in this pilot program will more likely continue with their academic training and earn a postsecondary credential in their desired career.
Another instructional model being experimented with this fall is a class called “Health Foundations.” Instruction is integrated with both an ABE teacher and college teacher in the health careers department for low-skilled adults who are planning a career in a health care field. Whether the career pathway will be in medical support, direct care or nursing, this health foundations course is a bridge preparation for advancing into the other credit bearing curriculum in their chosen career pathway.
This type of bridge course has never been offered before.
The Red Wing Workforce Center is another partner of HVABE. The organization regularly sends client referrals to HVABE for basic skills enhancement and, of course, high school completion or GED Exam preparation before encouraging them to jump right into college.
The educational opportunities at Hiawatha Valley Adult Basic Education are poised to provide learning opportunities for any low-skilled adult learner to gain more skills for today’s workforce. Even if the student has some catching up to do, there are partners in place to help streamline the educational process so an individual can successfully prepare for careers in today’s economy.
Adults who are interested in getting started in this free basic educational program at Hiawatha Valley Adult Basic Education can call 651-385-4774 to get their first appointment to start working on their future.