Trump says "let's invest in workforce development and job training."
Posted by Peter Waite on January 31, 2018 in categoryNewscategoryAdvocacy

Jan 31, 2018

The recent State of the Union address by President Trump contained several references to issues vital to adult literacy programs. For the first time in many years the speech specifically called out the importance of supporting “workforce development and job training.” While supporting these efforts is admirable, it is crucial that we invest in programs that focus on these goals if any meaningful progress is to be achieved. There has been a steady decline in all workforce development programs over the last 15 years. We hope that this will result in a renewed interest in adult literacy programs and that additional resources will be forthcoming to help us achieve the collective vision of a well-educated American workforce.

The second important issue addressed was immigration reform. While this issue continues to be a challenge for both the Trump administration and Congress, there is one component of it that should receive strong bipartisan support. We need to fund the adult literacy programs that provide English language instruction for those seeking citizenship and/or legal residence in the United States. Regardless of the policy positions associated with illegal immigration, the need for additional English language programs that assist immigrants with obtaining citizenship should be clear to all policy makers—especially those in a position to increase resources. 

Without additional support, adult literacy programs attempting to make a difference by providing a path to citizenship will have limited success. Key to helping immigrants achieve citizenship and acquire jobs with sustainable income are English competency and marketable skill attainment. Additional credentials, such as a high school equivalency certificate and/or further education, will also be vital to earning a livable family income.

Immigration reform will not succeed without an increase in English language acquisition programs for immigrants. Many adult literacy programs offer this assistance free of charge. It will be critical to fund English language acquisition programs as part of any immigration reform package.

Finally the recommendation that we should address prison reform and give offenders a “second chance” is welcome and long overdue. Here again the key to successful reentry and helping offenders gain meaningful employment is often adult education. These efforts must include expanded high school equivalency and basic adult literacy programs. 

We commend the attention to these important national issues and we encourage the administration and Congress to pursue efforts to make necessary reforms, but we will continue to point out that these cannot be successful without attention to adult basic education. 

ProLiteracy will be actively supporting efforts to increase the necessary resources for programs providing these services and we encourage others to help support this effort through our Letters for Literacy campaign. We hope others will join in these efforts as we strongly advocate for additional support.


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