|May 19, 2021 10:14 AM
|Representative James B. Struzzi, II
|All House members
|Building Our Future: Adult Education and Workforce Recovery Fund
|In the near future I plan to introduce legislation to address the recommendations of the Pennsylvania Association for Adult Continuing Education (PAACE) which proposes the establishment of a $12 million Recovery Fund for Adult Education providers to meet the increased need to upskill working age adults for the post-COVID workforce.
Our workforce demands are changing. We need to help those in the current workforce prepare for these new opportunities. Many adult learners need additional support to succeed in completing their High School Equivalency, job training, technical training and postsecondary education. The Recovery Fund will provide resources to enable adult education programs to provide bridge courses, high school equivalency test scholarships, tuition related expenses, marketing and outreach, and other innovative programming for adult learners to co-enroll in adult basic education and community college, technical college and other job training programs to increase success rates.
Adult learners need career services, including career exploration, planning, education and job training navigation. Recovery fund investments would enable providers to support these needs to supplement the current Title I services offered through the Career Link system as they are often just beyond the grasp of adult education participants.
Adults who participate in integrated job training and education programs are more likely to persist, complete quickly, and advance to family sustaining wage careers. Building on lessons learned from the US Department of Education’s Rethink Adult Ed competition to support adult education’s role in preparing adults for pre-apprenticeships program, the Recovery Fund would provide flexible dollars to allow workforce development providers and adult basic and education programs to explore innovative programming that serves as an onramp to middle skills jobs in high priority occupations.
Additionally, estimates suggest that 1 in 3 American workers lack the digital skills necessary for the growing role of technology in all forms of work. Jobs requiring digital skills are expected to increase by 12 percent by 2024 (Urban Institute). The recovery fund would support both infrastructure and instructional costs.
The fund would be housed in the Pennsylvania Department of Education and established as a competitive grant fund for eligible adult basic education providers. Grant awards could be capped at $500,000. Larger grants could be considered for multi-agency collaborations.
Priority investments include digital literacy, career services, workforce/adult basic education partnerships and tuition assistance.
Please join me in ensuring that we help adult learners get the skills, training and education needed to enter the workforce into higher paying jobs, so we can help Pennsylvania’s economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Introduced as HB1728