Adult Education is an Economic Catalyst

The Problem

Millions of adults in America never learned to read, perform simple math, use a computer, or creatively solve problems. This skills gap is increasing inequality, and it is hurting individuals, families, communities, the U.S. economy, and our nation’s competitiveness. 

In an increasingly competitive world, America needs as many of our people workforce-ready as possible. Building our economy means working together with employers and workforce development boards to empower individuals, families, and communities, with the educational opportunities they need. America cannot continue to ignore millions of its residents who never learned to read proficiently, perform simple math, use a computer, or creatively solve problems.

Adult Education is an economic catalyst that helps engage every able-bodied worker. Thirty-six million adults read at or below the fourth-grade reading level, and sixty million adults lack basic numeracy skills. Adult Education helps get these individuals off the bench and into the workforce and community college. It enables them to be tax-paying citizens contributing to the growth of our economy.

There is a huge concern about economic disparity in this country. Strengthening workforce skills through adult education is one of the primary vehicles for giving Americans a sense of hope and opportunity to rebuild the Middle Class. 

This is an important moment in time. As stakeholders in states look to implement WIOA, it is crucial that education service providers and workforce development programs come together and start thinking about investing in and engaging with these programs differently.

This is more than just calling for better access to and awareness of education and job resources. This is about the different pieces of the education and workforce development systems across the country realizing that they have a role to play in a movement with a similar mission: ensuring economic justice for one of our most underserved populations.