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Contextualized Literacy in Green Jobs Training

Alexandra Waugh

Millions of adult Americans lack the basic literacy skills necessary to perform everyday tasks requiring basic reading and math. This stifles our economy, given that employers are increasingly likely to require education or training beyond high school.

Organizations that provide job training to lower-skilled adults through Jobs for the Future’s GreenWays initiative have found they can better prepare workers for advanced occupational training and skill development by integrating the teaching of literacy and numeracy skills into basic occupational training programs. Drawing on our experiences in the GreenWays initiative, JFF prepared this brief to assist program designers and literacy instructors at job training programs that serve lower-skilled adults. It explores the interrelationship of the nation’s literacy rates, the growth of middle-skill jobs, and the importance of integrating literacy skills into workforce training.

This brief focuses on the model of contextualized instruction, illustrating it by case studies drawn from GreenWays programs in Philadelphia and Detroit that have integrated contextualized basic skills education into their occupational training programs.