New Report Summons a Call to Make Skills Everyone’s Business
Azusa Library, The Literacy Update: March/April 2015
The U.S. Department of Education Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) released a new report in February: Making Skills Everyone’s Business: A Call to Transform Adult Learning in the United States. Its authors’ review of a convergence of data, analysis, and policy highlight just how much skills matter – to individuals, their families and communities, and to the economy overall. The Literacy Program at the Azusa City Library answers that call and invites you to join with us. Here are a few highlights from the report that emphasize why we do what we do.
In the United States 36 million adults have low skills, scoring below Level 2 on the most recent international literacy assessment. Further, the skill levels of U.S. adults have remained stagnant over two decades. The report details who has low skills and who would benefit from gaining higher skills. For instance, we find that two-thirds of the low-skilled population (nearly 24 million people) are employed. With slow projected growth in the labor force, that means that most of tomorrow’s workforce already is working today. Low-skilled workers tend to be employed in retail and auto mechanics, hospitality and food service, health and social work, manufacturing, and construction.
How can individuals benefit?
Higher skills lead to higher wages.
Increasing parents’ skill can improve education outcomes for their children – “double duty” dollars is what some people call it.
Higher-skilled adults are healthier, with implications for their ability to work, parent, and participate in their communities.
How can business and industry benefit?
Increasing adult skills increases productivity.
Because higher-skilled workers are also likely to be healthier, helping adults improve their skills indirectly raises productivity.
Increasing skills expands access to better employment and better-paying jobs, creating new customers for products and services.
How can the community benefit?
Raising adult skills could lift community educational attainment for the next generation as well.
States with better-educated workforces have higher economic growth and higher wages.
Raising adult skills could potentially save communities substantial amounts in healthcare costs.
Integrating immigrants may benefit communities economically.
Raising adult skills could result in more civic engagement in communities.