The future is skills

Feb 25, 2019Articles

Earlier this month, our CEO, Carey Harris, joined a delegation of Pennsylvania workforce partners at the 2019 Skills Summit in Washington, DC.  On the agenda was a robust exploration of federal policies called the Skills for Good Jobs Agenda, which is aimed at ensuring that Americans have access to skill building opportunities, employers have access to a trained and qualified workforce, and the U.S. economy can continue to grow.

The focus of the Skills for Good Jobs Agenda is growing the middle skills workforce—those workers with some training or credential beyond a high school diploma, but less than a four-year degree. The gap between the demand and supply of middle skills workers is the largest workforce gap in Pennsylvania and nationally. It also happens to be the biggest job skills category in the workforce and demand is predicted to remain strong well into 2024. 

Literacy Pittsburgh has an invaluable role to play in expanding the region’s middle skill workforce. We’re working with thousands of adults to increase basic reading, writing, math, English language and workplace skills necessary for postsecondary education and career advancement into the middle skills workforce and beyond. For many, the road to family sustaining wages begins here at Literacy Pittsburgh.

The federal skills agenda calls for Congress to build on recent successful legislative efforts such as the update to the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and others and increase funding for programs under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), adult education (like Literacy Pittsburgh), and career and technical education grants. The agenda also calls for Congress to adopt legislation that supports better alignment of the postsecondary education system with the changing needs of America’s workers and businesses.  Recognizing that people learn to work by working, the agenda calls on Congress to expand federal investment in work-based learning opportunities that benefit both businesses and employees. It also calls for a modernization of TANF to support training opportunities with a focus on employment outcomes, not just meeting work requirements.

No visit to the nation’s capital is complete without “Hill Visits,” and Carey’s was no exception. She met with Congressman Conor Lamb and his staff as well as with staff from Senators Casey and Toomey’s offices. Carey also met with Congressman Doyle’s and Congressman Thompson’s office. Our meetings were a great demonstration of, and reinforcement for, bi-partisan support for workforce investments.  Members of our Pennsylvania delegation included representatives from Literacy Pittsburgh, Partner4Work, Jewish Family and Community Services, Philadelphia Center for Literacy, 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund, and JEVS. 

With the current regional unemployment rate of 3.9%, an 18-year low, and employers in just about every sector are worried about their workforce pipeline. There hasn’t been a better opportunity for our students to build better lives than now.   

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 4,000 individuals acquire the skills needed to 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, digital literacy, English language learning, math, reading, and family literacy through one-to-one and small class instruction. Founded in 1982, it serves local adults through numerous neighborhood locations and its Downtown Pittsburgh Learning Center.       

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