The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly brought about struggles within our community, impacting not only health but financial security. In past economic downturns, low-wage workers have often been the hardest hit. Current data shows a 35% decline vs. 9% for high-wage workers.) Those without a high school diploma experience unemployment disproportionately. They also have limited options when seeking employment and often end up earning wages below the poverty line. The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified significant pre-existing disparities in our community.
To help address these disparities, Literacy Pittsburgh will launch a new Career Accelerator course in October. This education and career counseling program will be delivered collaboratively by Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) and Literacy Pittsburgh. It is designed for “fast track” adult learners who are seeking a high school equivalency credential and better employment at family-sustaining wages. Literacy Pittsburgh will help students brush up on key skills and knowledge to pass the high school equivalency exams. JFCS will provide career search advice, resume preparation, and access to critical supports such as utility assistance, transportation or childcare if these present barriers to learning. Students without access to technology will receive a Chromebook for use while enrolled in the program.
The goals of the course are to help students earn their high school credential, improve their skills and marketability, and begin establishing new career paths with better pay. Instruction will be delivered both virtually and in-person, based upon Health Department guidelines and the needs of participants.
The ideal Career Accelerator student:
- attended high school but did not receive a diploma
- tests at or above a 9th grade level on standardized testing
- is currently unemployed, or underemployed in a job that does not pay sustainable wages
Literacy Pittsburgh will provide instruction to prepare students to pass four subjects covered in the high school equivalency test: social studies, science, math reasoning, and reasoning through language arts. Students will receive instruction in reading, writing, social studies, science, and mathematics, and practice critical thinking and communication skills needed in work settings.
We anticipate that 80% of the participants will earn their high school equivalency diploma after completing the 12-week course. Of those, 80% will be placed in employment. In addition, career counselors will track participants’ progress in developing job search skills and addressing barriers to employment, as they move toward their goals of better employment and greater economic stability.
We are excited about this new initiative and are committed to playing a vital role in the economic recovery of our region and its families.
Literacy Pittsburgh (formerly Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council) helps create better lives through learning. Recognized as a national leader in adult and family literacy, Literacy Pittsburgh is the largest provider of adult basic education in Allegheny and Beaver Counties. Last year, Literacy Pittsburgh helped more than 5,100 individuals acquire reading, writing, math, English language, computer and workforce skills so they may reach their fullest potential in life and participate productively in their communities. Literacy Pittsburgh provides free, personalized instruction in workforce readiness, high school diploma test preparation, English as a second language, basic skills, and family literacy through one-to-one and small class instruction, along with referrals to other family support organizations. Founded in 1982, it serves local adults through numerous neighborhood locations and its Downtown Pittsburgh Learning Center.