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Literacy & Workforce Needs

Well, the City of Philadelphia has some progressive features—and has shown its concern for the literacy rates of its residents for many years with a series of initiatives, some of which are detailed in previous blog posts. (And Good Job, Eagles too, btw).

This week, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney launched a new strategy to train and connect Philadelphians to blue-collar jobs. Think: apprenticeships, job training, and adult literacy education, all with a focus on marginalized populations, including those living in poverty but also, notably, immigrants and “returning citizens,” or the formerly incarcerated. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

“Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine,” is the result of an 18-month effort by a 40-member workforce steering committee heavily comprising representatives from the education and workforce training sector.

Most significant is that this issue is finally being addressed by government and economic development leaders. So many communities have people who need jobs—and jobs that need people—but there is a major disconnect. Many of us literacy advocates have been screaming this for 30 years…finally people are listening!

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the plan is part of an early but growing trend on the part of city and state governments to tackle what is known as the skills gap, or the mismatch between the talent that employers so desperately need and the skills the workforce currently has, especially for “middle-skills” jobs, which require some level of education or training but not a four-year bachelor’s degree.

We will need to keep advocating for adult learners as this process unfolds, and help others see the critical role of literacy in workforce development.

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