A recent study conducted by the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) found that one in six adults in the United States has low literacy skills. That is 36 million adults. One in three has low numeracy skills. Read more about the effects of low literacy skills here.
ProLiteracy estimates that low literacy costs the US $225 billion each year due to lack of productivity in the workforce, crime, and the loss of tax revenue due to unemployment. An increase of just 1% in literacy scores leads to a 2.5% rise in labor productivity and a 1.5% rise in GDP per individual (2004 The Economist).
According to a 2005 study by the US Department of Education, 50% of the chronically unemployed are not functionally literate.
How Adult Education Can Help
Studies show that improved reading, math, and computer skills are associated with better wages and more stable employment. Read more here.
A GED® increases earning power and job prospects and opens the doors to higher education and training programs. The job market is shrinking for those without a diploma. A recent study out of Georgetown University projects that by 2018 only 10% of jobs will be available to those without a high school credential; 63% of jobs will require some type of training or education beyond high school.
Better skills also lead to higher rates of civic involvement. A study conducted by Educational Testing Service in 2012 found that 60% of those with low academic skills feel they do have no influence on public decisions and the political process. Better skills are also correlated with increased rates of volunteerism.
English Language Learning allows immigrants to secure family-sustaining jobs and become part of the community. Immigrants who are English proficient earn between 13 to 24% more than immigrants who are not. 60% of immigrants who are eligible for citizenship but do not become citizens have limited English proficiency (2007 Urban Institute).
Educating adults helps children and families too. A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that the greatest determinant of a young child’s future academic success is the reading level of the mother.
We serve over 450 participants a year across our core programs of GED® Preparation, Adult Basic Education, ESL (English as a Second Language), Nurse Aide Training, and Workforce Development. We have helped hundreds of students obtain a GED® diploma, improve their reading and math skills, acquire English language proficiency, secure employment as certified nursing assistants, develop workplace skills, enter employment, and prepare for better jobs.
Renata has been a student at ESC for six years, and we have all watched as her English language skills have improved greatly. It is a testament to her hard work and diligence that she has had so much success.
Renata is from the beautiful coastal town of Florianopolis in the state of Santa Catarina in Brazil. She and her Brazilian husband have been living in the United States while her husband works as an After Marketing Director at Volvo CE in Shippensburg. They have made the small town of Shippensburg their home, and Renata has become familiar with Carlisle as she travels here for English class twice per week (prior to COVID).
Renata enjoys life in the United States and prior to COVID, she and her husband travelled throughout the country, enjoying such places as Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Florida, Nashville, Boston, and many other areas of the United States. Once she can travel again, her dream is to go to Hawaii! Her life in Brazil included her career as a social worker in a psychiatric and rehabilitation facility treating people with alcohol and drug addictions. She received her social work degree at Santa Catarina University. She described how the experiences brought her closer to not only the patients but also their families. She is grateful for the experience and the opportunity to help people improve their lives. Her generous spirit continues here in the United States as she volunteers her time once a week at Menno Haven Retirement Community working in their thrift store. She works in the receiving room sorting and pricing items that are donated to benefit the community. She enjoys the opportunity to speak English with other volunteers and the residents of Menno Haven.
When asked about some of her favorite aspects of living in the United States, the first thing she mentions is that she feels safer here and that she enjoys the kindness of the people she meets. She also likes that things are close and there is little traffic in comparison to Brazil. A true American tradition that Renata also enjoys is a good cheeseburger with bacon and sweet potato fries! Just don’t add any pickles or BBQ sauce! One American tradition that she says she and her husband are still not big fans of is the lack of a true lunch hour! In Brazil, she says that it is custom to have a lunch hour with a full meal and enjoy time talking with co-workers. They don’t eat lunch at their desks or have meetings during this time.
Renata has made a great impact on all of us working at ESC. She has been a student of several of the ESL teachers, whom she describes as “very smart,” and has made many friends in the classes. She is quick to note that she enjoys learning about the other cultures that so many of our students represent and that she is grateful for the impact they have had on her. In her words, “My husband and I are here because we want to be here, but some people are here because of very difficult situations. I am grateful for my wonderful life.”
Emily knew she wanted to be a CNA, even before graduating from high school. After graduation in June 2016, she enrolled in the Nurse Aide program at ESC. She had heard of the program through a friend and thought it would be a great opportunity for her to get a good-paying job and save money to eventually go back to school for something in the nursing field. Less than two months after graduating from the NA program, Emily was hired at a local nursing home. She says that this program, particularly her instructor Art, helped to prepare her for clinicals at HACC, as well as for her job interview. When asked about her favorite part of her job, Emily says “I love working with my residents, that’s what I enjoy the most. I wasn’t much of a people-person before, but now I am.” Since graduating, Emily has been invited back to speak to NA students about her experience and what she does at the nursing home. She says “this is a great opportunity for those that may not be financially able to send themselves to school.”
Younes moved to the Carlisle area from Morocco and began ESL classes at ESC in December 2016. He wanted to improve his English speaking skills in order to achieve better employment here in the U.S. Although Younes holds a Master’s degree in computer science and has a Microsoft certification, he knew that finding employment in his field would be difficult if he was not fluent in English. Since beginning ESL classes, his English has improved greatly and he has even earned a promotion in his job at a local logistics company. When discussing his promotion, he said “English is the key. It helps me communicate at work and also in the community.” He plans to continue attending ESL classes as long as needed. He enjoys doing presentations and speaking in front of the class. “I am proud to be here and study in class with Ms. Kim, she is very helpful. I wish the classes were longer.”
Julissa and James have been students at ESC since September 2016. Julissa enrolled in ESL, while James enrolled in GED classes. Originally from Honduras, Julissa has lived in the area for 3 years and worked at Amazon full-time. She began attending ESL classes in order to improve her English and eventually enroll in GED classes. While James finished classes and received his GED in April, Julissa continued to attend classes in the Spring and was able to complete her GED in July. She was accepted into Real Estate school and hopes to become a licensed realtor, where she can put her background as an Architect to good use. When asked what she enjoys the most about ESC and how it has impacted her life, Julissa says “the people that work here are amazing, the teachers give us confidence and a place where we feel safe.” She added that attending classes has improved her communication with her kids’ teachers and in her day-to-day life. She wishes there were more classes during the week in order to spend more time practicing her English.
Debbie came to the Employment Skills Center after relocating to Carlisle. She was looking for a job and knew that she needed to improve her reading and writing skills. Staff at the Center have assisted Debbie with her resume, cover letter, and job search. “They also helped me read my medical forms and fill out applications on the computer.” Debbie has since found a job and continues to work on her literacy and math skills in the Adult Literacy class. “They did not have any classes like this where I came from,” she says. “This place is truly a blessing.”