Wednesday, July 1, 2009

‘Help Wanted’ for Philadelphians (and Pennsylvanians) Seeking Education and Jobs

We already know from PathWays PA’s study, Overlooked and Undercounted: Struggling to Make Ends Meet in Pennsylvania that 40.9 percent of all Pennsylvania households have a high school education or less, and of those households, 49% of those with less than a high school education and 26 percent of those with a high school diploma earn less than the Self-Sufficiency Standard.

Now the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board (PWIB) has released another of their incredibly readable reports (remember A Tale of Two Cities?) to add more data to the mix. Help Wanted looks at the education needs of Philadelphia’s adults and how those needs relate to employer needs.

The results?

* More than half of Pennsylvania’s adults struggle to fill out the basic paperwork needed to fill out a job application or school paperwork.
* Over 202,000 adults in Philadelphia have not completed high school.
* Thirty years ago, 1 in 4 Philadelphia jobs were in manufacturing, requiring little education. Today, 1 in 20 jobs are in manufacturing, requiring high levels of education.

This report is one more example of the need to create new opportunities for adults to earn middle skills credentials for the middle skills jobs (requiring some college but not a bachelor’s degree) that make up most of the jobs in Pennsylvania. The PWIB makes some broad recommendations on what employers, corporate leaders, educators, unions, and adults can do to improve the system in the city.

But the problem is not just a Philadelphia problem. As the report shows, nearly 4 in 10 adults throughout Pennsylvania lack basic literacy skills. Follow the links to remind the House and Senate that adult literacy and the Industry Partnership program are necessary tools towards bridging the gap between potential workers and available work.

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