The Need

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.

Our Programs

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.

Our Students

 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 picDebbie 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.”

Robert picRobert had worked as an Army medic for six years and was always interested in the healthcare field but never had the support or the funding to get started. When he heard about the Nurse Aide Training Program at the Employment Skills Center, he jumped at the opportunity. Robert says the training is “bar none, the best program out there.” It prepared him for his clinical program at HACC better than he had expected and also changed him as a person. “I underwent a transformation during the class,” he says, “and I have lost 90 pounds. I am also a better thinker. The class gave me the tools to accomplish my goals.” Robert earned the highest clinical grades awarded at HACC in the past six years, passed his state licensing exam, and was immediately hired as a CNA at a local facility. He loves his job, and the nursing facility residents request him by name. Robert has met his goal of providing a good life for his   9-month-old child and hopes to study to be a trauma nurse.