March 25, 2012

What do you think is the most important problem facing this country?

A CBS News/ New York Times Poll from March 7-11, 2012 asked adults nationwide, “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?”

51% responded Economy/Jobs. Only 2% responded Education.

Can we so significantly prioritize one over the other and expect to see positive change? Perhaps the two really go hand in hand?

Before you answer, here are some important statistics to consider:

  • One in seven adults cannot read a job application. (National Assessment of Adult Literacy)
  • 67% of the service industry’s jobs in 1983 required a high school diploma or less; this will shrink to NO jobs for high school dropouts in 2018 (Help Wanted, see Figure 4.17, pg. 86).
  • An estimated 80-90 million adults—nearly half the workforce—lack the basic education and skills to qualify for the jobs that are being created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. We cannot bridge that gap unless we invest in our nation’s adult basic education and literacy programs in tandem with job training and workforce development programs (National Coalition for Literacy). 
 In light of an economic downturn and daunting statistics such as those listed above, it would seem then that we as a nation would throw our focus onto educating the workforce. Yet, commitment to adequate federal education funding has been declining rapidly- at all levels!

Despite ongoing inconsistencies for federal dollars, and education program after program thrown on the chopping block, the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas has taken a stand for investment in education. LCCT has facilitated a collaborative planning process with adult literacy programs, Workforce Solutions Capital Area, and Austin Community College to create the new Workforce and Education Readiness Continuum (WERC).  By securing a 3-year contract with the City of Austin, the 13 partner agencies (Austin Adult Literacy Network) established a more coordinated system for adults to seamlessly transition through community-based educational programming, job training, and other support services. The WERC continuum launches in April of 2012, and will dramatically increase the number of adults receiving adult literacy instruction in Austin.

Stay tuned to our website More information about how WERC will shape the Central Texas Community is coming soon!

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