WIA Community Conversations Transcripts - Workforce Competitiveness

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Workforce Competitiveness

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Subject: [Workforce 2065] Workforce Competitiveness Questions
From: Brenda Dann-Messier
Date: Mon Jan 11 09:32 EST 2010

Workforce Competitiveness List Participants,

My name
is Brenda Dann-Messier, Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education.
Thank you for planning time this week to participate in a virtual session of
the WIA Community Conversations (/lincs/discussions/10WIA).
I know it adds to your day to read and respond to discussion list posts, and I
deeply appreciate you giving so much of your time.

week, I ask that you discuss the successes and needs you see for adult
education with respect to this discussion list’s topic. I’m hoping that you’ll
be candid and honest, and that there will be an open and frank discussion on
the list in this regard.

I’m here
to listen, and to learn. This discussion is different from the typical
discussion list guest discussions. I’m not going to react to your suggestions or
answer questions. Please know, however, that what you suggest is worthwhile for
the Department to consider as it forms its policy position on WIA
reauthorization. Based on what I learn from the WIA Community Conversations, my
hope is to be able to say what the real issues are that impact the field, our
students, and our practitioners.

I will present all conversation comments to the State Directors of Adult
Education at their annual meeting in February. I will obtain their feedback as

If you
are interested in what others are saying across the country, in addition to
what you hear from this list discussion, please visit the Department of
Education’s blog http://www.edgovblogs.org/duncan/2009/11/workforce-investment-act-reauthorization/ . The transcripts from face-to-face sessions hosted by OVAE are linked to the
blog. We will link transcripts of these discussion list sessions to the blog as

To start
the discussion, please reply to this email with your thoughts on any of the
following questions:

  • What
    have been the greatest successes your systems have experienced in putting adult
    learners on a path to jobs in high growth sectors?
  • How can WIA reauthorization promote better alignment between adult education
    and workforce development? What types of innovative approaches might work?
  • What are your hopes for WIA reauthorization?

look forward to hearing from you,


Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier

Assistant Secretary

Office of Vocational and Adult Education

United States Department of Education

400 Maryland Ave. S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20202

Subject: [Workforce 2065] Workforce Competitiveness Questions
From: Ellen Kovac
Date: Mon Jan 11 10:52 AM EST 2010

Dear Brenda,

This is Ellen Kovac. I teach ESL to
immigrants and Business English to Unemployment recipients at Union county
college in NJ. I'm happy to be able to participate in this dialogue.

I spend a lot of time searching for and
creating materials that will best fill the immediate needs of my students. I
would like to see more prepared materials that teach English directly to the
roles that adults pay in their communities as workers and as parents,
homeowners, citizens, taxpayers, etc.

Does the Department of Education have such a
collection of lessons of which I am not aware?

Thank you and thanks to anyone who might know
of such resources.


Subject: [Workforce 2071] For the discussion of WIA re-authorization
From: Laurie Sheridan
Date: Mon Jan 11 7:15 PM EST 2010

I am the Workforce Development Coordinator
for World Education and its SABES Central Resource Center. I coordinate a
statewide team of Workforce Development Coordinators for the System for Adult
Basic Education Support (SABES), which provides professional development and
many other supports and resources for the ABE field in Massachusetts. I have
worked for over 40 years in both workforce development and adult education. And
so, I have both experience and profound interest in both WIA Title I and Title
II, and in both adult basic education and workforce development.

I have just five brief points to contribute
to this discussion, which is both badly needed and much appreciated. I thank
you for the opportunity to address the issue of Workforce Investment Act
Reauthorization, and the broad issues in the posted questions.

  1. WIA Title II supports a broad and diverse
    ABE system, addressing multiple student goals including workforce preparation.
    There needs to be better coordination between the agencies that house and fund
    WIA Titles I and II—the U.S. DOL and U.S. DOE respectively. In many states, we
    have seen the results of such effective coordination and collaboration. We
    needs more at the Federal level, making it easier for ABE programs to combine
    the various funding streams, create integrated models, and move beyond the
    current “silos” that create parallel tracks and lack of coordination.
  2. The ABE system in Massachusetts and
    elsewhere has been “starved” for funding for too long. We teach students facing
    multiple barriers and skill deficits, and try to “be everything to everyone,”
    have faced declining public funding for nearly 10 years, and face rising costs
    even as waiting lists grow, the need for English language programs increase,
    and education and skill requirements for the workplace increase. There is a
    real disconnect between the need, and the funding, and it is growing.
  3. For a largely part-time workforce, it is
    difficult to find professional development that is accessible or consistent,
    and hours available for professional development are scarce and hard to find or
    fund. Funding and time allocated for significant and consistent professional
    development have been eroded through budget cuts, and this erosion impacts
    quality of programming as well. Teachers need ongoing professional development,
    as well as specific instruction focused on incorporating needed content, especially
    job-related or workforce-preparation content, into their curricula and classes.
    SABES published last year a substantial curriculum guide, “Integrating Career
    Awareness in ABE/ESOL” which has been used enthusiastically in a number of
    Massachusetts programs and classrooms, but it require significant training and
    assistance to use it, and not all teachers or programs have the PD time for
    this, to their students’ detriment.
  4. More adequate compensation for ABE
    programs and practitioners is urgently needed. ABE practitioners (teachers,
    counselors and directors) typically eke out a living by working at multiple
    part-time jobs and programs, and struggle hard to provide quality instruction
    and programming despite low wages (less then 50% of K-12), few or no benefits,
    and typically part-time hours. Teacher turnover is high and increasing, the ABE
    workforce is “aging out,” and lack of staff continuity affects program quality
    despite our best efforts. WIA needs to beef up funding for ABE programs
    significantly in order to address this shortage and professionalize the ABE
    field as K-12 has been strengthened in the past.
  5. Not all ABE students, in fact only a
    minority of them, are ready for post-secondary education. While I commend
    President Obama for advocating for some post-secondary education for all, not
    all students have the resources, skills, and/or time to go to college. For
    many, entering a vocational training program, apprenticeship, or certificate
    program is a big and desirable step. For many others, acquiring basic literacy
    and/or English skills must come first before college is even a possibility.
    Others will not be able to participate in any post-secondary education; even
    secondary education, whether high school, vocational school or a GED, is a
    difficult and distant goal to attain. All these adult goals and all student
    “next steps” need to be supported and facilitated under WIA.
  6. It is well known that we are living in a
    rapidly changing economy, whether it is growing or contracting, and one whose
    skill and education demands are varying and likely to continue to change
    rapidly. It makes less and less sense for WIA-funded job training programs to
    teach solely narrow job-specific or occupation-specific technical skills, when
    those skills are likely to become obsolete in the near future. The real need is
    for broad skills and those that enable students to continue to learn new
    skills. For this reason, there is a strong need for, and for public support
    through WIA for, acquisition of broad, transferable skills and for the skills
    needed for ongoing, in fact lifelong, learning—“Learning to Learn.” Employers
    frequently indicate that they can always teach narrow occupational skills on
    the job—what they need is workers with “soft skills,” solid basic skills like reading,
    writing, arithmetic, verbal communication, and the ability to continue to
  7. Our country needs to throw a good deal
    more support into integrated learning and curricula in ABE programs. Programs
    that contextualize curriculum for the jobs students currently do or want to do,
    integrate adult basic education and job skills training, and/or incorporate job
    readiness into ABE instruction, help students learn more readily and progress
    faster. OVAE needs to fund research, identify and disseminate best practices
    and program models, and support programming that incorporates these approaches,
    which have proven effective in helping students learn and prepare for jobs, or
    do them better.
  8. Models
    that integrate ABE instruction and job training deserve significant attention
    and support. So do programs that enable students to learn at work. Time for
    classes and study, for workers who need to upgrade their skills and for those
    who need to enter or re-enter the workforce, is a serious barrier for ABE
    students and would-be students with family responsibilities, complex lives, and
    the necessity of earning a living while trying to learn. Adult education at
    work, and other forms of support both financial and social, like child care and
    transportation, are needed in order to facilitate students’ ability to
    participate consistently, or at all, in ABE programs. It often seems that those
    who need ABE most, are least able to participate. But, they would benefit most,
    and be able to contribute even more to the community and to the economy, as
    well as to tax revenues, if only they had easier access to ABE or ESOL
    programs. If we are serious about adults needing to learn English, new skills,
    or higher literacy and education levels, we need to make it actually possible
    for them to acquire these skills, in an ongoing and adequately-funded way, and
    with policies and practices that actually support it.

Laurie Sheridan,
Workforce Development Coordinator World
Education/SABES Central Resource Center

Boston, MA

Subject: [Workforce 2072] Workforce Competitiveness/WIA discussion
From: Chrissie Klinger
Date: Mon Jan 11 7:16 PM EST 2010

I service adult learners in a rural part of Pennsylvania with no public transportation. We do provide services in a one stop, PA CareerLink,
as well as at other community locations. Despite the many obstacles job seekers
face in a rural area, I feel our area has been successful in aligning adult
education with workforce. We have a local WIB that includes adult education in
their goals and discussions. Our local one stops have offered services at
libraries throughout the county in addition the one stop building to meet the
needs of the job seekers. They knew this was a need because they listened to
the Adult Education field. Not only are Adult Education providers invited to
WIB meetings, some serve on the WIB in committees and as voting members. We
also have WIB leaders that come to education coalitions and join education
related groups. In areas where this alignment is not happening, I suggest
looking at how the local Workforce Investment Boards include education and how
a local WIB board can get education involved more. My hope for WIA
reauthorization is that it is not changed drastically because most aspects of
it are not broken and do not need to be fixed. I think the fact that major
decisions are made locally is important as long as the WIB making those
decisions includes education throughout the entire decision making process.
Each WIB area is so diverse that the local businesses and people can make the
best decisions on training needs and programs.

Chrissie Klinger

Program Coordinator

Bedford County
Literacy Council/CRSD

Subject: [Workforce 2073] Workforce Competitiveness Questions
From: Debbie Glass
Date: Tue Jan 12 8:06 AM EST 2010

What have been the greatest
successes your systems have experienced in putting adult learners on a path to
jobs in high growth sectors?
I am from the Central Valley of California, and one of the most
impoverished counties in America in terms of income and educational levels.
Thirty-six percent of adults in our county have not achieved their high school
diploma or equivalent. The key to our successes has been close collaborations
between County Human Services, WIA staff, EDD and education providers. Unfortunately,
the availability of high-growth sector jobs is a barrier for our area which has
an agriculturally-based economy. A research study recognizing the linkages
between service programs in our county revealed outstanding connections
centered around the One Stop. The collaboration that exists here is a result of
leadership at the agencies who are willing to share ideas, collaborate to serve
learners and not compete for participants. The One Stop Leadership Team meets
monthly to discuss successes and work for quality improvements of One Stop

How can WIA reauthorization promote better alignment between adult
education and workforce development? What types of innovative
approaches might work?

WIA paperwork and determination of eligibility for services is daunting for
many of the participants. Some of the One Stop staff are afraid to take risks
to provide services for the hard-to-serve and less than persistent population
because of the importance placed on performance measures. WIA reauthorization
should include changes to streamline and/or digitize the eligibility materials.
A touch-screen application system or system tied to cell phone or text would be
useful for many participants who have technical knowledge, but may not use
computers easily. Stronger ties to the business community to open up OJT
opportunities/ incentives for small businesses to use One Stop services and
funding for One Stop business services staff to provide intensive services to
business owners/ managers should, in my opinion, be a part of the
reauthorization. One innovative approach might be that an unemployed individual
could arrange his/her own work arrangement by finding an employer who would be
willing to take him/her on for the purposes of training and both the participant
and the business person could take advantage of incentives. Perhaps a website
could be established on which the business owner/manager could advertise for
trainees and WIA participants could find a match. Creating a willingness and
trust on the part of business people to include WIA trainees as a part of the
workforce could be challenging, but could be included in public service
announcements (podcasts, social networking sites) and commercials encouraging

What are your hopes for WIA reauthorization?
Our area of California has very high unemployment, low wages and low
educational attainment levels. It would be my hope that WIA dollars could
continue to serve the unemployed and undereducated and create strong ties
between education and the business community and streamline procedures for both
groups to determine eligibility for services. A link to economic development of
the local communities would also be a plus.

Debbie Glass

Subject: [Workforce 2074] For the discussion of WIA re-authorization
From: Paul Jurmo
Date: Tue Jan 12 9:46 AM EST 2010

Hello, Colleagues,

I agree with Laurie Sheridan's comments in
the preceding email.

Here are some recommendations for those who
wish to build more effective workforce learning systems at the national, state,
and local levels:

In our planning, we should be considering the
"3 Ps" of principles, practice, and policy:


We should learn from research and experience
in adult education, organizational development, and other fields to identify
the principles (standards, values, underlying assumptions) that guide our work.
These might include:

-- A focus on understanding and responding to
our learners'/customers'/clients' needs: Our field is called on to serve many
different types of clients (e.g., out-of-school youth, English language
learners, older adults, people with disabilities, ex-offenders, etc.), each of
whom come with particular interests, challenges, strengths. We all, however,
need essentially the same mix of basic skills, occupational knowledge,
self-efficacy, an educational and career plan, and a support system. This set
of "career tools" can serve as a framework or check-list to guide
each participant's learning plan.

-- A commitment to high quality and
continuous improvement.

-- A willingness to learn from and adapt
practices from our field and other fields, some of which are new and innovative
and some of which are "oldies but goodies." (For example, over the
past two decades, federal, state, and foundation funding has supported many
demonstration projects which developed models of work-related basic education
that we can build on.)

Leadership which is well-informed, rigorous, committed, and willing to make
difficult decisions and stand up for these and other principles.


We need to adapt and use good practice to
build effective learning systems that respond to various learners, various
purposes, various contexts. These practices include both instructional/learning
practices and administrative practices such as:


... Well-designed curricula facilitated by
well-prepared and well-supported instructors;

... Use of proven instructional methods (I
personally have learned a lot from the Equipped for the Future model and other
research from the adult basic education field.)

... Emphasis on helping learners to engage in
ongoing self-study (self-directed learning) beyond the classroom;

... Use
of innovative, authentic educational technologies (e.g., PowerPoint, the many
web sites -- including YouTube -- which provide great readings, videos, etc.)
and other free or low-cost technologies which can help learners develop
EFF-type skills, content knowledge, and computer skills);


Administrators need to provide an infrastructure
within which good instructional practice can flourish. This includes:

... Research to understand community learning
needs, so that services can be customized to serve those needs. In practical
terms, this might mean creating career pathway services for local industries
and special programs for particular populations (e.g., English language
learners, ex-offenders, out-of-school youth, people with disabilities).

... Effective professional development which
carefully selects staff and then supports them through ongoing supervision,
mentoring, training, evaluation.

... Careful recruitment, orientation, and
placement of learners, to ensure that learners are matched with services that
meet their needs and learners understand and are committed to working with
those services.

... Well-equipped, accessible learning
opportunities (provided both in physical locations and via on-line learning).

... Meaningful, efficient involvement of
employers, labor unions, social service providers, higher education providers,
and other stakeholders (e.g., to shape curricula, provide guest speakers,
provide ongoing education and/or employment of other supports for learners).

Efficient reporting of data and lessons learned, to inform funders and policy
makers about program successes, challenges, and needed areas for further


To enable good practice to happen at the
program level, policy makers (in Workforce Investment Boards, in state
agencies, in business and labor organizations, in legislatures, in foundations)
need to:

-- learn from the research and experience of
attempts to use adult basic education as a tool for workforce development and
workplace change;

-- re-think how adult basic education and
workforce development funds are used;

-- invest in demonstration projects and other
initiatives to help programs develop and sustain good practice at the local

-- be willing to eliminate ineffective
practices, programs, and personnel, if necessary;

demonstrate the same kinds of critical thinking, planning, research, and other
basic skills that employers say they are looking for in the U.S. workforce.


-- The above ideas are not all that new. A
number of sources have been developing these kinds of principles, practices,
and policy guidelines for the past two decades or more. These include:

.... The Equipped for the Future systems
reform initiative (which identified the basic skills adults need for work,
family, and civic roles, as well as guidelines for good practice and good policy);

.... Focus on Basics, The Change Agent, the
National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy, the ERIC
Clearinghouse on Adult and Vocational Education (which summarize research on
adult basic education generally and work-related basic education in

.... The National Workplace Literacy Program
(which funded workplace basic skills demonstration projects across the U.S. in the late 1980s and early 1990s and whose reports are stored in the above-mentioned
ERIC Clearinghouse);

....The Council for the Advancement of Adult
Literacy and the Center for Law and Social Policy (whose publications present
recommendations for work-related adult education policy);

-- Those
who want to use adult basic education as a tool to help U.S. workers succeed in meaningful, rewarding employment are facing huge challenges.
However, we also have many good resources to learn from. We need to "work
smarter" as we build more effective systems of work-related learning for
lower-skilled U.S. adults.

Paul Jurmo, Ed.D.

Dean, Economic Development and Continuing Education Union County College

Elizabeth, NJ

Subject: [Workforce 2076] For the discussion of WIA re-authorization
From: Barbara J. Struble
Date: Tue Jan 12 8:57 PM EST 2010

I have taught ESL/ABE/ASE, held position as
coordinator and Director of these programs in Arizona and Alaska. My comments

1 QU -
What have been the greatest successes your systems have experienced in putting
adult learners on a path to jobs in high growth sectors? How can WIA
reauthorization promote better alignment between adult education and workforce
development? what types of innovative approaches might work?

1. ANS: success: not much success. Healthcare requires lots of education if a
client want to earn a living wage. CNAs work too hard for too little pay.
Skilled trades apprentice programs are very good, but limited. There needs to
be an effective bridge between employers and educators. Employers are profit or
service driven. Many of them have instituted their own training programs
because education has not produced the job force they need.

2 QU What
are your hopes for WIA reauthorization?

2. ANS: More funding and accountability for professionals who can create
methods to train a workforce. Perhpas the answer is to move from Department of
Education to Department of Labor on a Federal Level. This would change the
focus of adult literacy.

Barbara J. Struble

Subject: [Workforce 2077] WIA
From: Susan Lyons
Date: Tue Jan 12 8:58 PM EST 2010

An idea initiated by
a local employer in rural upstate NY in 1990, and later incorporated into
School-to-Work initiatives; the Shadowing, Mentoring, Internship Learning
Experience (SMILE) program was developed for in-school youth, and later
expanded to out-of-work adults. The program prepared and matched participants
with employers in their field of interest for a day or partial day “shadowing”,
a longer term “mentoring” or a full-fledged “internship”. It had tremendous impact
on many individuals at relatively low cost. I think a similar initiative
incorporated into WIA, with emphasis on "high growth sectors" where
possible, would "promote better alignment between education and workforce
development", while making a difference in the lives of millions and
helping improve our economy.


Subject: [Workforce 2083] WIA reauthorization ideas
From: Karen Williams
Date: Wed Jan 13 1:39 PM EST 2010

The points I would like to see revised in WIA reauthorization include the

  • A holistic approach
    in funding to education as part of workforce preparation and job search
    activity, so money can be paid for either or both and it’s not divided into two
  • Too much emphasis on levels completed as discussed by others and instead
    looking at points gained or GEDs achieved.
  • Holding states accountable to disperse funding on a timeline. California does not follow the timeline they give us and so far this year, have not made
    any payments to their adult education providers eventhough their written
    documents say we will receive the third payment after our Jan. 31 deliverables
    are received.
  • Making it possible for programs such as library literacy programs to receive
    funding for serving adults in the lowest levels of literacy. Again, in California, the state is not taking any new programs and the deliverables are difficult to
    achieve and/or are not cost-effective for library literacy programs to
    participate. For this reason, less than 10% are receiving WIA Title II funds.
    If a base grant was available with more money for those who are able to produce
    the gains, it would make it feasible for these programs to participate and it
    would be good for California to be able to show how they are addressing the
    lowest levels.
  • Give incentives to the Title I programs to work closely with Title II and
    vice versa. Eliminating the divisions altogether would be the best.

Karen Williams, Executive Director

Stanislaus Literacy Center

Modesto CA

Subject: [Workforce 2085] My Answers
From: Ellen Lindsey
Date: Thu Jan 14 5:29 AM EST 2010

Thanks for the chance
to give some input…

  1. What have been the greatest successes your systems have experienced in
    putting adult learners on a path to jobs in high growth sectors?

    From our vocational training programs in cabinetmaking and shipping & receiving,
    we have consistently placed 85% of graduates. The foundations of both programs
    were carefully laid at the beginning, a key ingredient. Research into the needs
    of employers in these industries resulted in lists of skills entry-level
    employee must have. Curriculum development followed, with on-going input from
    industry experts. This provides a very close match between what our grads know,
    and what employers need.
  2. How can WIA reauthorization promote better alignment between adult education
    and workforce development?

    Let us do our jobs! Currently the paperwork requirements of WIA are taking too
    much time/effort away from providing services to clients. In Illinois, JTED
    monitoring is a good example of sufficient and efficient monitoring.
    Additionally, more funding for longer term training would enable clients with
    multiple barriers to succeed at higher rates. We work with students full-time
    for 3 months. The progress and transformations needed could use more time for
    many people that we serve, and all whom we do not.
  3. What types of innovative approaches might work?

    Transitional money, which entices employers to give an individual a chance
    without having to pay the full price of employment, has been helpful to job
    placement in this climate, especially.
  4. What are your hopes for WIA reauthorization?

    Effectiveness and efficiency!


Ellen Lindsey

Subject: [Workforce 2087] WIA reauthorization ideas
From: Chrissie A. Klinger
Date: Thu Jan 14 8:54 AM EST 2010

I strongly AGREE with everything Karen has recommended. I am in PA and we are
experiencing the same state level money issues. Points gained versus levels is
also something that really needs to be considered!

Chrissie Klinger

Program Coordinator

Bedford County Literacy Council/CRSD

Subject: [Workforce 2088] WIA Discussion – Technology and DL in MN
From: Jean McAlister
Date: Thu Jan 14 9:02 AM EST 2010

I'd like to add to
Jennifer's statement on creative/flexible technology use.

For an individual to train using ITA funding in our region (NJ), the
participant must be in class for at least 20 hr. per week. This creates a
hardship for some as it relates to childcare, eldercare, and transportation
issues. On-line and hybrid instruction would be a wonderful alternative. While
we have provided some on-line/hybrid instruction, accountability of hours spent
on instruction/class work is challenging to report and monitor that are keeping
with acceptable WIB guidelines. I'd like to see national guidelines and
acceptance of these methods of training based on outcomes, rather than time
spent on task. (Daily assignments, on-line chats with instructor on topic,


Subject: [Workforce 2089] WIA input
From: Kay Gregor
Date: Thu Jan 14 11:08 AM EST 2010

it should be noted that literacy councils are able to provide successful “
Niche” programming for adults with lower literacy levels. An example of this is
a short-term tutoring program we provide for people who want and need to pass
their written/ or knowledge portion of their state driver’s license test.
Persons having difficulty passing the test ( having taken it and failed several
times) are referred to our program by the local department of motor vehicles
and the local court system for people who have fines or face jail time for
related automobile issues. We also tutor those who want their Commercial
Driver’s License , often referred by a trucking company or construction
company. We are currently doing this program with no financial support from the
DMV, the courts, or any other sustainable source. We did receive a one time
grant from our local Community Foundation for the start up of the program. The
grant has paid for the intake and the coordination of the program, but the
tutoring is done by volunteers. With knowing that having a driver license is
mandatory for many jobs, I would like to see financial support for this program
through our local Workforce Development Center. Literacy program are a great
value for the money needed to provide practical educational programming. This
is just one example: I know of many more / possible we can share these ‘niche’
programs and begin to directly work with our WFCenters to see how literacy
programs can assist in serving the people we both serve.

Kay Gregor, Executive Director

Racine Literacy Council


Subject: [Workforce 2090] wia ideas
From: Mary Gleason
Date: Thu Jan 14 11:09 AM EST 2010

Hello. We
are a very small non profit making an enormous difference in people's lives. We
have hundreds of volunteers teaching reading at the very lowest levels, and
ESL. We have only one funded class right now, thanks to the library system. We
have had as many as six going on simultaneously at different times. We have
found that federal money was almost more trouble than it was worth.
Expectations for grade level gains are unrealistic in the population that
begins with the sounds of the letters. Expectations for the number of hours are
unrealistic for the population that is working two marginal jobs to make ends
meet. Other kinds of improvement are observable, and can be reported. For
example, when one of our adult students learned to sign her name, it made a
huge difference in her life and the lives of her children. Until then, the
children had been accused of forging school documents they brought home for
their parents' signature.

One person, learning to sign her name legibly, helped herself and lifted that
terrible pressure from her children also. That kind of improvement is not
measured by just test scores.

It would be great if the WIA could include low literacy and ESL classes at the
work site. There should be some incentive to employers to provide time and
space at work. A small literacy program could send either a paid teacher or a
volunteer to the work site. WIA could at least pay the mileage for the
volunteer, and the time and benefits to the paid teacher, plus time for pre and
post testing, and especially time for record keeping. Staff time for record
keeping, data base maintenance, testing, and even copy machine fees or phone
costs, for example, were not covered because they were considered
administrative. WIA should include fees for external financial audits, too.

WIA could include money for a case manager. The population at the lowest level
of literacy and the very beginning levels of English learning usually has a
cluster of obstacles, marginal jobs, if any, transportation that is unreliable,
sporadic health care, and many other problems that make attendance spotty.

Mary Gleason

Executive Director

CC Literacy Council

Corpus Christi, TX

Subject: [Workforce 2091] I am Dom....
From: Dom Gagliardi
Date: Thu Jan 14 2:41 PM EST 2010

I am Dom Gagliardi, Principal of Adult and Career Technical Education for the Escondido Union High School District. Escondido is located in San Diego County, and we serve approximately 10,000 students each in our adult education program. I
wanted to address some successes we have had leveraging resources from multiple
programs to address the basic skills needs of students and getting them
employed in high growth sectors, specifically in health careers.

One example is a program that began in the
spring of 2008 targeting high school seniors and young adult who were
interested in pursuing a health care career pathway in nursing. The City of Escondido provided a $75,000 grant to assist with community outreach and to hire a
"health care navigator" who primarily provides case management services
of students while they are in the program. The target population was low-income
English learners. Students participated in a class called Healthcare Career
Fundamentals (funded through what is known as the Regional Occupational Program
in California). From this group, students were selected to participate in a
Certified Nurse Assistant program based on assessment scores in reading and
mathematics. Students who did not meet the minimum basic skills requirements
were referred to Adult Basic Education programs (WIA supported). Those students
who did meet the minimum standards were selected. The Certified Nurse Assistant
course again was funded by Regional Occupational dollars. Some of the city
grant provided supportive services such as paying for immunizations, TB tests,
required finger printing, scrubs, transportation and the actual certification

Of the fifteen students who actually made it
to the clinical component of the class (regulations allow only 15 students per
each instructor), 13 students completed, passed the state certification exam,
are now employed as certified nurse assistants and all are enrolled in a local
community college waiting to matriculate into more advanced nursing programs
such as LVN or RN.

A surprising factor was that a philanthropy
group that heard of the program paid the students while they were in their
clinical rotation. In addition, those students who met age and income
qualifications were paid through San Diego Workforce Summer Hire a Youth

During this school year, we have implemented
a similar model for our medical assistant program. Through a special from the
San Diego Workforce Partnership, federal funds are being used to partially
subsidize the cost of the program. ROP funds are used to cover the balance. Again,
students who do not have the basic skills to enter the program are enrolled in
Adult Basic Education (WIA) until their skills are improved. The Workforce
dollars also underwrite a "health career navigator" who provides case
management to these students. Based on the students' eligibility the
"navigator" assist the students with other supportive services such
as transportation, immunization fees, uniforms etc.

The only
reason I have provided this lengthy response is to demonstrate how funding can
be leveraged and to show how adult education and workforce development can be

Dom Gagliardi

Principal of Adult and Career Technical Education

Escondido Union High School District

Subject: [Workforce 2092] employment goals
From: Bev Dye
Date: Thu Jan 15 10:47 AM EST 2010

ABE programs are held accountable on whether
or not their students gain/retain employment. We are not an employment agency,
but an educational agency. We can work with students on workplace skills, and
give them tools so that hopefully when they obtain their GED they will be
successful in the employment outcomes. But...are the programs that are funded
under WIA Title I (i.e., job centers, etc.) held accountable on whether or not
their clients earn their GED? Should work both ways...

Bev Dye

ABE/GED Director & Instructor

Casper, WY

Subject [workforce 2093] (no subject)
From: Valerie Fischer
Date: Fri Jan 15 12:08 PM 2010

WIA reauthorization

  • What have been the greatest successes your systems have experienced in
    putting adult learners on a path to jobs in high growth sectors? How can WIA
    reauthorization promote better alignment between adult education and workforce
    development? What types of innovative approaches might work?
  • What are your hopes for WIA reauthorization?

I am
blessed to live in a state which has sustained an unemployment rate of less
than 3.5% for the past year – employment opportunities are bountiful for those
who wish to work. As well, we have a state surplus of $2.5 billion, so we do
not experience issues like other states across the country. We’re lucky to have
employers who support students to work towards their GED and recognize its
value; some employers prefer a GED as its specific to skill knowledge not just
‘seat time’ of high school graduates. The strong collaboration within our state
Workforce Development Council has been instrumental in partnerships towards
meeting workforce needs and goals in a very organized and deliberate fashion.

1) WIA
reauthorization needs to continue to prioritize basic improvements in
academics. While academics and workforce readiness go hand in hand, the
foundation of Adult Education is academic. 2) Subsequently, students, centers
and states should be assessed on what we are required to do – improve basic
skills and obtain the GED; measures of employment or retention of employment
should be secondary and carry a lesser weight in performance indicators. We
have a voluntary audience and have marginal control over economic factors and
decisions for post secondary. 3) Funding formulas should include performance in
addition to population – rural states have no reward/incentive for the good
work that is done. 4) The state administrative cap does not reflect the
continued growing regulations and accountability and needs to increase.

Valerie Fischer

Director of Adult Education

ND Department of Public Instruction

Bismarck, ND

Subject: [workforce 2094] employment goals
From: Allison Pickering
Date: Fri Jan 15 12:17 PM 2010

Again, Bev, this is probably your state's policy. I would like to see a
reasonable, national policy.

Allison Pickering

Assistant Principal

Escondido Adult School

Subject: [workforce 2095] WIA discussion
From: Donna Brian
Date: Fri Jan 15 1:15 PM 2010

Hi Workforce Colleagues,

I’d like to know if you have reached any feeling of consensus with the messages
posted concerning the WIA reauthorization based on what others have said. When
I am summarizing the points that have been made, I’d also like to know which
ideas resonated with the most discussion list members. I have the feeling that
when your thoughts were expressed by someone else on the list, you didn’t then
post your own statements, so some of the ideas that may be very important to
many of you may only have been said once. Since Brenda Dann-Messier wants to
know what recommendations come from the people on our list, it would be good to
know the strength of your feelings as well.

I have
made a compendium of the posts made so far (and I’m trying to keep it updated
as they come in) and this compendium is on the ALE Wiki at http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/Workforce_and_WIA_Reauthorization , if you would like an easy place to go review what has been posted. Then let
me and the rest of the list know what you would like emphasized in our

Thanks to
everyone who has shared so far. We have a wealth of thought here. And to those
of you who are yet to post, do it soon!


Donna Brian

Moderator, LINCS Workforce Competitiveness Discussion List

Subject: [workforce 2096] Funding for Personnel, the key
From: Diane Frank
Date: Fri Jan 15 1:15 PM 2010

We can't afford to NOT teach communication skills to immigrants and natural
citizens. I've been observing this forum during the Q&A session and I've
yet to hear from anyone in the Pacific NW as to the needs of Work Place needs'
in our area. This area of the continent may be unique in that most all immigrants
are swayed to come here as forest and fruit harvester/pickers by large
corporations who promise money, lodging. When they arrive there are few if no
amenities for them. Quite often they are illiterate in their own language and
all the efforts to inform them are lost in creating translations.

They are exploited from the get-go by these corporations and companies who go
so far as to:

  1. detract SS, state and federal taxes from their paychecks (which of course
    never get reported which I have witnessed firsthand)
  2. provide rotten trailers where 3-4 families
    try to squeeze into for living quarters
  3. very often call in INS at the end of a season when they are to pay the workers thereby expunging themselves from paying anyone for their hard work. Many working immigrants end up in jail
    (which costs state taxpayers) as a result of being purposely placed on
    unleased/improperly leased public and private lands (dropped off by the vans
    full day after day by these greedy corporations). There are millions of acres
    owned by private/state/federal available for lease.

Our public lands are over-picked, edibles
(such as mushrooms) are not observed/inspected for disease (which must be
inspected at the site) cross contamination (poisonous mushrooms bagged during
picking with edibles). We loose literally millions of valuable resources each
year in this part of the country to this illegal picking at the hands of these

Many immigrants arrive and discover there
really is no work (although promised there would be), don't get paid, suffer
from rain/cold exposure sending them to clinics and hospitals (paid by
taxpayer), get pregnant (enabling a native born legal resident). Worst of it
is, only the workers are caught, not their dependents who are stuck here to
fend for themselves in a foreign country when they and theirs is imprisoned or
deported. Guess where they go for survival? Our state welfare system.

Our food quality is compromised,
resources/revenue is compromised, legal system is overburdened with preventable
arrests/containment/representation/deportation, state human services is
overburdened and suffers budget cuts. And yet the only budget which seems
unaffected is the legal system and dispensing federal administration systems.
Does it appear that I'm ditching on immigrants? NOT AT ALL. Having voluntarily
worked with these immigrants for years to encourage them to report who they
work for which allows us to report the corrupted exploitation to our state
Labor and Industries who may go into these corporations and fine/monitor their
activity to stop illegal action has been a long, daunting task.

The greatest, safest, soundest, place for
immigrants to report in to is their local literacy center. It is a safe-haven.
It affords them the ability to keep themselves out of jail, report abuse,
become contributing citizens, stay in America, learn English, represent
themselves, communicate. It would be in the best interest of our nation if
corporations who make use of immigrant labor pay a separate tax which primarily
supports literacy education. This tax should be made legal by every state/city.
Taxed money which stays local.

As the result of a phonetic dictionary I
developed (used by ESL), I have had, during promotional tours, the luxury of
visiting literacy centers in 14 states this year. The staff (of which there are
few) the volunteers (of which there are plenty but unreliable) are over-worked
and stressed. They have passion and work like little ants feverishly upholding
the guts of humanity. Little or no pay, unappreciated by white-collar workers
(yes, that term still applies) and loved by millions of those they've helped to
merely survive needs to be addressed. Hitting the pocketbooks and earmarking
tax money specifically is essential. U.S. taxpayers are paying the expense one
way or another, may as well be intelligent about this placement of funding.
Could move a bit of it over to literacy centers from the legal system, yeah? I
was a volunteer literacy tutor for 10 years at the community college level (how
did these kids make it past high school?????) in Texas, California and Alaska.

I know how ungrateful the higher paid echelon
is towards those of us who have mercy and persevere, voluntarily helping the
'challenged' despite the blood and mud in the trenches. In my interview with
hundreds of literacy tutors this year alone along the west coast, the common
denominator is not learning material, learning/teaching strategies, but is
funding to pay people to keep these centers open and operational. Period.

Diane Frank

Rainier, WA

Subject: [workforce 2097] WIA discussion
From: Regina Suitt
Date: Fri Jan 15 1:16 PM 2010

What have been the greatest
successes your systems have experienced in putting adult learners on a path to
jobs in high growth sectors?

  • We have had a full time ABE/GED Instructor
    holding classes in the two main OneStops for nearly five years. This works
    really well for case managers and clients. If someone needs a GED, the case
    manager walks them right over to the teacher to get started.
  • We also contracted with the OneStop this year to provide Contextualized ABE
    classes in Health, Sustainable Construction and general Workforce Skills.
    Stimulus funds given to the OneStops paid for these classes.

How can WIA reauthorization promote better alignment between adult
education and workforce development? What types of innovative approaches might

  • There are other important interim goals
    that could be associated with workforce skills, not just getting a job. I’m
    afraid sometimes that people take low wage jobs that won’t really help their
    long term situations.
  • Funding could go to companies to provide on-site classes to increase skills.
    This could help people who don’t have the time, childcare or transportation to
    attend classes outside of work.
  • Stimulus money in our community went only to the OneStops; some of it could
    have gone to the adult education programs too.

What are your hopes for WIA

  • I work at Tucson's main adult education
    program that served 7800 students last year, 85% are functioning below the 9th
    grade in reading, language or math and nearly 80% of them are under 45 -
    working age. Many of these folks want jobs, but with skills below the 9th grade
    level they need more time. Many of our students face challenges with work
    schedules, child care and transportation - all real barriers to them attending
    a class, no matter how badly they want a job. Another challenge in Tucson is the number of good jobs available even for those who have higher level skills to
    get them.
  • Students functioning under the 9th grade need more time and support to get up
    to a level to transition either into college, vocational programs or higher
    wage jobs. They need childcare and transportation help. Adult education is
    barely funded to do the academic part; to add on top of it a requirement to
    also find them a good job, is unrealistic. We should work closely with the
    Onestops: we do the realistic educational piece and they do the work piece.
  • We should expand the primary goals allowed on NRS. If anyone gets a GED, it
    should count. If anyone gets their citizenship, it should count. Other goals
    around civic participation and parenting should also be added. They are
    important interim goals for those that getting a job will take longer.

Regina Suitt

Program Manager Advanced Programs

Subject: [workforce 2099] WIA Reauthorization
From: Gwendolyn Johnson
Date: Sun Jan 17 8:26 AM 2010


I'm terribly late, I'd like an opportunity to make a contribution to this
discussion. Before I comment, I’d like to speak to my role/function with the
organization that I represent. For the past five years, I’ve worked in a number
of positions to service the learners in South Baltimore at the South Baltimore
Learning Center (SBLC). Those positions have been Academic Support Counselor;
Intake Specialist and Learner Support Services/Partnership Coordinator. As
primary point of contact for majority of the learners coming to us for
services, it becomes clear from the beginning what challenges/barriers the
learner faces as it pertains to obtaining the High School Diploma as we seek to
find out what would stop them from completing the process. Becoming a
legitimate employee is at the top of that list.

What have been the greatest successes your systems have experienced in
putting adult learners on a path to jobs in high growth sectors?

SBLC has a Career/Employability Counselor working directly with the upper level
Pre-GED and GED learners on career exploration activities to take steps towards
achieving their post secondary or technical training in prep for a job. She
works with the learners in a classroom setting for 1-4 hours a week and allows
for drop-in appointments throughout the week. By the end of a semester (10-12
week session) the learner will have completed a portfolio to speak to what
he/she has learners and armed with a plan to take the next step(s).

The Career/Employability Counselor has held career and college awareness events
to connect learners with resources in the community as well as the occasional
employment fair with those employers willing to consider a candidate without a
high school diploma. While the job opportunities are sparse, we’ve have some
success with employment referrals for job placement or consideration. We’ve had
the good fortune of partnering with a local hospitality facility, banking
institution, and office building owner willing to accept applications from our
learners. However, those employers are far and in between.

Sometimes we've the good fortune of having job training opportunities announced
to our learners but it has often times come with an unintentional “either” “or”
option. These opportunities don’t always support the educational piece
necessary to receive credentials. When our learner is desperate enough, he/she
will leave our program for the opportunity to make an earnest wage. They find
it difficult...if not impossible to do both at the same time.

How can
WIA reauthorization promote better alignment between adult education and
workforce development? What types of innovative approaches might work?

In my
opinion, you can’t have one without the other. Adult education services should
lead straight into workforce develop options. The WIA reauthorization could
allow for the “promise” of a fair advantage after or while studying to improve
upon skills. Maybe there could be some type of incentive for employers to
create OJT opportunities for our population. Something like the Welfare to Work
program but for adult literacy learners.

What are
your hopes for WIA reauthorization?

sincere hope for WIA reauthorization is that it doesn’t force a learner to
choice between education and job training/employment opportunities. Our
learners need a bridge/process that doesn’t require a drastic choice. Also they
don’t need a bridge/process that is daunting or highly restrictive.
Accessibility would be key. We find out all types of reasons as to why our
learners are in need of our (adult literacy) services but many of them have
some type of disability that hinders them from being as successful as they’d
like to be. My hope is that this premise is always considered when planning for
any initiative for adult learners.

Thank you so much for
the opportunity to speak to an issue that is so near and dear to my heart
because the need for workforce develop is huge for so many of the wonderful
people I get to meet every day.

Take care,

Gwendolyn Johnson

Learner Support Services/Partnership Coordinator

South Baltimore Learning Center

Baltimore, MD

Subject: [workforce 2101] WIA Discussion
From: Chrissie Klinger
Date: Mon Jan 18 5:39 PM 2010

After reading all the responses here are the key things I noticed:

  • More goals for NRS reporting-especially when dealing with very low level
    learners we need a better way to show the progress they make over time.
  • The funding needs to be allocated better, too much goes to Labor and Industry
    and barely enough makes it to education. Also, states get it from the federal
    govt. but state budget issues delay or cause misuse of that money.
  • One Stops need to involve education fairly all over the US. It seems like some of us have great partnerships and others don't but there is nothing
    in place to "force" One Stops to involve education in an equal
    manner. Someone mentioned the ARRA stimulus money and how that went to Labor
    and Industry; where I work our WIB included us in that and gave us money but
    many education partners in my state as well as throughout the country were not
  • Professional development and the simple fact of education being mostly
    part-time and no benefits was something else that needs to be addressed, but
    honestly I think that is going to be a more local thing and I doubt the federal
    government will make guidelines on that-but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be

Chrissie Klinger

Program Coordinator

Bedford County Literacy Council/CRSD

Subject: [workforce 2102] WIA Recommendations
From: Peg King Van Duyne
Date: Tue Jan 19 8:32 AM 2010

Adding a post discussion response after missing the week - I was offline for
two weeks. I hope this is not too late to add to federal and state review of
WIA reauthorization discussion. I'm speaking from 25 years' experience in
volunteer tutor coordination and leadership of a combined adult education/
workforce development program in behalf of refugee and immigrant women, young
adults and a small number of South Vietnamese reeducation camp male survivors.
For twenty cycles the organization provided an experiential training in entry
level office jobs with basic skills remediation, intermediate ESOL, computer,
office and cultural skills training, career exploration trips, individual
volunteer tutors and 2 unpaid internships in metropolitan Boston. Constituents
came from four WIBs; a few independently paid tuition; foundations paid for the
volunteers' coordination. I wore a few hats: job developer, diction instructor,
professional development leader, volunteer tutor trainer, grants writer and
curriculum developer coordinating with financial and service companies,
hospitals and banks. From these experiences I recommend most adult and young
adult classes enable learners to experience the language and the work they are
learning as they are engaging in the AE and/or WF training program. (Career
exploration classes visit the city's employers and employees to discover how
work is produced, how services are provided, how fields work, how corporations
compare) . I recommend that the teaching experience simultaneously be a
learning opportunity.

What have been the greatest successes your systems have experienced in
putting adult learners on a path to jobs in high growth sectors?

In our case a system included our standalone
community based organization, employers (including HR hiring personnel and
internship supervisors), the multiple WIBs (including Career Center counselors
and contractors), local colleges, a network of newcomer agencies, centers and
schools from which to recruit training applicants, a network of ethnic
community leaders, a network of service providers and our local, regional and
state professional associations. The essential partners were employers who
welcomed refugees and immigrants.

1. Beginning with local hospitals we
developed a process of continuous coordination with employers who benefited
from our graduates' work upon being hired. The employers invested their time in
meetings and face-to- face and phone consultations. They gave curriculum
recommendations, stated their job and employability requirements, gave learners
career exploration interviews, practiced job interviewing and at the end of the
program, attended our Job Fair. They provided internships for each cycle of
training- The organization coordinated over 2000 internships. The employers
readily evaluated the program, its curriculum and the readiness and employability
of our candidates for jobs. Some employers took our twenty hour readiness
volunteer tutor training to then practice English conversation and mentor an
individual in the current training program for nine months' of three hour-once
a week meetings. They grew to understand the learners' point of view and
process of language and computer skills learning; all tutors received a weekly
update about the training program's lessons and participated in peer meetings
held every six weeks. They also engaged in weekly fifteen minute phone
conversations with the paid professional tutor coordinator who facilitated the
development of the tutor/learner partnership and the ESOL literacy and language
supplemental lessons for the individual.

2. Knowing the end goals- succeeding in
having the specific skills to use on the job and the interviewing competence to
compete in the open labor market, the staff instructors shared in the
construction of a coordinated and integrated experiential curriculum. They
matched lessons in their specific specialties in coordination meetings. For
example, mixing and matching language and writing lessons in business letters
with word processing business letters' training.

3. We held weekly professional development
discussions, planning, performing and being accountable by principles that
included that individuals matter and that our mentoring on a daily basis
assured their incremental day by day mastery of skills. Three day retreats held
2/3 of the way through a cycle assured instructors' accountability for
instruction and learners' mastery of skills, remediation and coordination with
the team.

4. Our
programs grew in length to meet the learners' needs for training due to added
employers' requirements. We began with six months' training and this grew over
the years to nine months plus three months for job search. The program
concluded the training with the graduates participating in an on-site three
month daily job search led by a job developer with assistance from staff and
volunteer tutors in practicing diction for job interviewing, networking,
interviewing at job fairs and practicing job interviewing skills on the phone
and face to face as well as editing on-line applications. The staff cooperated
closely with the Career Center Counselors connected to the WIBs and recommended
the graduates seek out employers in CC workshops and meetings.

How can
WIA reauthorization promote better alignment between adult education and
workforce development? What types of innovative approaches might work?

To stimulate the joint training of AE and WFprofessionals and their increased
collaborative classes and programs, WIA authorizes, funds and delivers
region-wide professional development conferences (model is 2009 DOL Baltimore
conference) with half day and full day trainings of newly developed and
previously developed model programs and have the lead instructors demonstrate
their best practices. (Example would be constructivist or functional education
models) WIA gives these six months in advance of a new or renewed contract and
makes the conference required for all program contractors or applicants for
contracts and their staff members. These sessions would be followed by on line
practicums in specific topics such as coordinating internships with employers
before the RFP's are sent out.

What are your hopes for WIA reauthorization?

Could we hope for the banks' taxes and the
taxes on Wall Street players' bonus' be allocated to the design of a federal
and state system of professional development of many AE and WF professionals (
along with unemployed computer professionals and active retired teachers) to
design ae/wf experiential literacy, language and job training programs. Then
they give the conferences and on line courses to ramp up many training

I hope that stimulus money goes to corporate
employees who have a sabbatical to work with training and AE personnel to
construct and deliver the specific trainings needed for the un or
under-employed to learn new literacy, language and computer skills as well as
corporate specific work skills.

money will be provided to libraries for face to face and on line ae/wf programs
in libraries with money for training and supporting tutors' steady training and
mentoring learners.

Margaret (Peg) King Van Duyne

One WITH One, Inc.