September 17, 2012 Louisiana Community and Technical College System Joins National Movement to Transform Adult Educatio
$1.6 Million Grant Will Support Efforts to Provide Adults With Skills Needed for Today's Jobs
Baton Rouge, LA - Helping adults in Louisiana earn the credentials and skills they need to get and succeed in family-sustaining jobs is a key to fueling the economy and boosting employment. Jobs for the Future (JFF) announced that the Louisiana Community and Technical College System has been awarded a $1.6 million grant to support efforts to ensure more workers have the skills they need through innovative adult education that provides a valuable credential. The three-year grant is part of Accelerating Opportunity: A Breaking Through Initiative, supported by a strategic partnership of five of the nation's leading philanthropies, including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Nationally, over 26 million adults lack a high school diploma. While just over 2.5 million of these individuals are enrolled in adult basic education programs, only 3% actually earn a postsecondary credential, with many leaving after only a semester or two. In Louisiana alone there are over 600,000 under-skilled adults. The trend will only continue-by 2018, 64 percent of all jobs will require workers with some form of postsecondary credentials. This exacerbates the current difficulty employers across the state report in finding qualified workers who can fill skilled positions.
"This initiative is an important investment for the Kellogg Foundation because of our commitment to helping children and families become more financially secure across the United States and in places like Louisiana," says William Buster, program officer at the Kellogg Foundation. "When adult learners develop new job skills and eventually find better jobs, all family members can reap the benefits."
"This national initiative could not have come at a more opportune time for Louisiana. As we utilize these funds to ensure more adults complete and continue their education and skills training, we will prepare them to meet their full potential, while at the same time, creating the workforce our state demands," said Dr. Joe May, president of Louisiana Community and Technical College System.
Accelerating Opportunity seeks to change the way adult basic education is delivered by putting adult students on track to earn a postsecondary credential so they can seize the opportunity to earn family-sustaining wages and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Accelerating Opportunity is funded by a strategic collaboration of diverse philanthropies including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Open Society Foundations and the University of Phoenix Foundation. For program and implementation expertise, Jobs for the Future (JFF) has engaged the National Council on Workforce Education, National College Transition Network and the Washington State Board of Community & Technical Colleges as partners.
"In order to ensure that more workers have the skills they need for today's good jobs, a change is needed in the way adult basic education is structured and delivered at the state and institutional levels in this country," says JFF President and CEO Marlene B. Seltzer. "With the support of our funders, partners and participating states, we will focus on redesigning these programs to significantly increase the number of adults obtaining credentials that lead to family-sustaining jobs and long-lasting career opportunities."
As part of their commitment to Accelerating Opportunity, LCTCS will focus on the New Orleans region by developing pathways that meet the needs of Bio District employers. Construction of new biomedical and research facilities has highlighted the need for a workforce pipeline to support these critically important industries and address the region's current skills mismatch. Additionally, LCTCS will collaborate with the New Orleans Regional Funders Workforce Collaborative. Led by local and national funders to address regional educational and skills gaps, NORFWC will focus on supporting Bio District workforce partnerships. Their existing infrastructure will enhance linkages between colleges and the regional workforce system.
LCTCS will partner with community and technical colleges, local educational agencies (LEAs), and community-based organizations (CBOs) during the three-year implementation grant. The partners are: Baton Rouge Community College, Capital Area Technical College and Greater Baton Rouge Literacy Coalition; Bossier Parish Community College and Caddo Parish School System; Central LA Technical Community College and Catahoula Parish School System; Delgado Community College, L. E. Fletcher Technical Community College and Terrebonne Parish School System; Louisiana Delta Community College; Northwest Louisiana Technical College and Sabine Parish School System; Nunez Community College and St. Bernard Parish School System; Sowela Technical Community College and Literacy Council of Southwest LA.
By the end of Accelerating Opportunity's three-year implementation phase, a projected 3,600 lower-skilled Louisianans will attain credit-bearing, industry-recognized credentials in high-demand fields. To accomplish this, LCTCS will focus on rapid expansion of integrated pathways in healthcare and biosciences at selected colleges.
"The Greater New Orleans economy is experiencing significant growth placing an even greater focus on the need for a skilled workforce. While a high school diploma or GED is important, today it simply does not earn you a family-sustaining wage. Delgado Community College is excited to be a part of the Accelerating Opportunities initiative and excited to expand the delivery of meaningful training opportunities to adult students throughout the region," said Dr. Monty Sullivan, Chancellor of Delgado Community College in New Orleans.
Louisiana was one of eleven states previously awarded a $200,000 design grant in 2011 to support efforts to redesign adult basic education and postsecondary programs. After the design stage, the LCTCS was eligible to compete for the implementation grant. Educational pathways to higher skills, credentials, and employment will be rigorously tested and independently evaluated. This evidence will be provided to philanthropy, labor, employers, adult education planners and other stakeholders in Louisiana and around the country to ensure that adult education programs lead to postsecondary credentials and good jobs.
"Accelerating Opportunity is expanding the professional horizons of Americans across the country - regardless of age or background - by helping them earn credentials and learn skills that have real value to employers," says Maria Flynn, JFF vice president, Building Economic Opportunity. "Accelerating Opportunity meets workers where they are regardless of skill level or language proficiency, preparing them for today's labor market by helping to develop foundational skills that create better opportunities for employment."
Louisiana's Workforce Solution: The Louisiana Community and Technical College System focuses on workforce and economic development, and on improving the quality of life of Louisiana's citizens through educational programs offered at 14 campus locations. System colleges include: Baton Rouge Community College, Bossier Parish Community College, Capital Area Technical College, Central Louisiana Technical Community College, Delgado Community College, L.E. Fletcher Technical Community College, Louisiana Delta Community College, Northshore Technical Community College, Northwest Louisiana Technical College, Nunez Community College, River Parishes Community College, South Central Louisiana Technical College, South Louisiana Community College and SOWELA Technical Community College .
About Jobs for the Future
Jobs for the Future aligns education with family-sustaining careers. With its partners, JFF designs and drives adoption of education and career pathways leading from college readiness to career advancement for those struggling to succeed in today's economy.