Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier to Host Engagement Session to Improve Foundation Skills of U.S. Adults

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Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary for vocational and adult education, will host an engagement session in Redwood City, Calif., on Wed., January 8, to gather input for developing a national plan to improve the preparedness of low-skilled U.S. adults.

The third of five regional engagement sessions is being convened to gather feedback that will be used to develop the U.S. response to an OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) report that highlighted the large number of U.S. adults with very low basic skills.

Entitled, "Time for the U.S. to Reskill? What the Survey of Adult Skills Says," the report is the first in a decade that quantifies the population of low-skilled adults, identifying some 36 million adults ages 16-65 whose skills in reading, math, and problem-solving in a technology-rich environment fall far short of what’s needed to succeed in the 21st century workforce.

The Department is looking for the country’s best ideas and most creative thinking from educators and policymakers, individuals, business, industry and labor leaders, researchers and data experts, and practitioners in adult education to weigh in on best strategies for improving foundation skills and workforce readiness. The national plan is expected to be released in spring, 2014.

As part of the engagement process, the Department has made available a toolkit for communities and organizations to host their own engagement sessions and contribute to their ideas to the development of the plan.

The first session was held early last month in Philadelphia, the second session in Chicago on December 17, and two additional sessions will take place this month in Cleveland, Miss., and the greater Boston, Mass. area. This session is co-hosted by ED's Office of Vocational and Adult Education and the Wadhwani Foundation, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif. For more about the sessions, please visit