New analysis illustrates frontline workers’ skill gaps & pursuit of learning

By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, May 31, 2016

The US Department of Education has released a new analysis of frontline workers’ skill needs and their pursuit of formal and informal learning opportunities.

The analysis, detailed in a blog post from the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), digs deeper into the demographics of adult workers who have limited literacy skills.

The OCTAE post draws on data released earlier this spring from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). It confirms that even among the subset of adults who are currently employed, the numbers are sobering: Approximately 22 million American workers score at Level 2 or below in literacy. (PIAAC scoring goes up to Level 5.)

Among these workers, nearly 70 percent have at least a high school diploma, and 60 percent make less than $20,000 a year. The majority — 60 percent — hold jobs in the retail, health, hospitality/food service, manufacturing, or construction industries.

Intriguingly, the OCTAE analysis found that half of these workers had participated in formal or informal skill-building opportunities in the previous year. Recent program profiles on the NSC Skills Blog have highlighted on examples of such skill-building in the health and retail sectors.

Check out the full OCTAE post to learn more.

National Skills Coalition is a strong advocate for the importance of adult education in facilitating workers’ skill-building.  Learn more about our partnership with adult education organizations and see our fact sheet on the need for greater investment in adult education.