On Friday, President Obama announced two proposals intended to increase access to high-quality skills training. One, America’s College Promise, will make two years of community college free for up to 9 million qualifying students. The second proposal is for a new American Technical Training Fund, which aims to support training programs through community colleges to help low-wage workers gain the necessary credentials and skills needed to be competitive in the job market. While ProLiteracy supports these new initiatives and the President’s commitment to adult education, the proposals do not address the importance of funding support for adult literacy programs that are helping millions of adults at the very lowest literacy levels. These adults need basic assistance in order to gain the skills needed to move on to future educational and job-related goals.
“ProLiteracy commends the President for taking the necessary steps to make adult education training accessible,” says Kevin Morgan, president and CEO of ProLiteracy. “However, there are 36 million adults in the United States who critically need remedial assistance before being eligible to take advantage of these community college training programs.”
ProLiteracy is calling for the President to address the needs of service providers who are helping at-risk populations, including recent immigrants seeking English language support in order to continue education and find jobs. Many of these learners are being served by ProLiteracy’s network, but the funding has not been proportional to the need.
“Additional funding is required to get low-literate adults to the level that will allow them to take advantage of post-secondary education,” says Morgan. “We’re calling for more support and funding for adult literacy and adult education programs to help adults get to the starting line of community college. We cannot continue to allow these adults to be left behind.”