Closing the Gap

Raising Skills to Raise Wages

Published Date : November 1, 1997
Author(s) : Edward Moscovitch

This report is a primer on the three vital rungs of our state’s workforce development system: adult basic education, job training programs, and our community college system. It received widespread media coverage, and is now inspiring numerous efforts to improve the state’s disparate efforts to empower citizens to improve their education and skill levels. Here again, the report provides numerous facts that are critical to understanding the policy challenges ahead.

For example:

Did you know that our own state Department of Education estimates that there are 877,000 adults in Massachusetts who are functionally illiterate–meaning they can’t read and write at a 5th grade level?

Did you know that the waiting lists for adult basic education and English as a second language courses can take two years or more in some of our big cities?

Did you know that “job training programs” serve only about 11,000 people a year?

Did you know that key states we compete with for high-tech jobs, like California, Washington, and Illinois, all enroll 2 1/2 to 3 times as many people per capita in community colleges as we do?

Did you know that the average Massachusetts community college student is 29 years old and attends part-time?

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