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Adult Education for Work: Transforming Adult Education to Build a Skilled Workforce

National Center on Education and the Economy, Workforce Development Strategies Group

This guide outlines specific steps that policymakers, program administrators, and providers can take to begin transforming their current adult education programs into Adult Education for Work programs. It provides: a vision for how comprehensive career pathways can be constructed to better meet our nation’s skill needs; a framework for organizing and effective Adult Education for Work programs, with 23 quality elements designed to prepare adults for both postsecondary learning and work; and benchmarks and promising practices that illustrate quality elements already in action in programs across the country. It includes a self-assessment tool that program administrators and providers can use to evaluate the status of current program designs and offerings against the recommended set of benchmarks, identify gaps, and plan strategically for needed change.

The guide was drafted by Dr. Audrey Theis of Keylinks Inc., and edited by Jackie Kraemer, Mary Clagett, and Ray Uhalde of the Workforce Development Strategies Group.

The guide is one of four documents produced for the One Step Forward initiative under a grant to the National Center on Education and the Economy from the Wal-Mart Foundation. The goal was to identify a set of quality indicators for Adult Education for Work programs geared toward helping low-skilled workers acquire the basic skills they need to succeed in the 21st-century workplace and to enhance the competitiveness of U.S. employers. The other three documents are:

The purpose of identifying the elements of Adult Education for Work programs is to:

  • Inform the adult education field and its practitioners about the key components of effective programs;
  • Stimulate excellence and guide quality programming in support of Adult Education for Work; and
  • Steer new public and private investments into expanded and transformed programming.

In 2009, Jobs for the Future and the Workforce Development Strategy Group of the National Center on Education and the Economy joined forces to form the Workforce and Education Policy Group within JFF.