Assistant Secretary 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 Chicago, Ill., on Wed., Dec. 18, to gather input for developing a national plan to improve the preparedness of low-skilled U.S. adults.

The second of five regional engagement sessions being convened to gather feedback on developing the plan, the engagement process was developed following the November release of 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 earlier this month in Philadelphia, and three additional sessions will take place in January in Redwood City, Calif., Cleveland, Miss., and the greater Boston, Mass. area. This session is co-hosted by the Joyce Foundation, which is based in Chicago.