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Giving Compass' Take:
• The Gotham Gazette takes a look at New York governor Andrew Cuomo's announced workforce development program and finds it lacks room for the millions adults who don't have a high school diploma or who lack English fluency. One suggestion? Bridge programs, which helps adults with limited education acquire basic skills.
• The bridge model appears to work, with a 2013 MDRC study providing evidence that students enrolled in LaGuardia Community College's bridge program were twice as likely as their peers to pass a high school equivalency exam and three times as likely to pursue a secondary degree. Nonprofits keep these programs running — and they need more support.
• The importance of skills training for economic mobility is undeniable. In case you're not convinced, be sure to check this out.
Governor Cuomo’s $175 million workforce development proposal, announced earlier this year, promises major new investments in the skills-building programs that New York needs. With industries like healthcare, tech, and construction facing shortages of skilled workers, the governor’s plan can help expand access to opportunity while boosting the economy.
But for millions of New Yorkers who lack math and literacy skills — including 2 million adults without a high school diploma and 2.3 million who speak English less than very well — gaining entry to effective workforce programs will first require boosting their basic skills. That is the idea behind bridge programs, which help adults with limited formal education acquire the skills they need to transition into training and higher education.
Given the enormous population of New Yorkers with these needs, expanding bridge programs should be part of any statewide workforce development proposal. Ideally, these programs can teach adult basic education in the context of an industry, while building momentum toward a marketable credential. However, fewer than a dozen programs in New York City and just a handful upstate put the full bridge model into practice.
It’s time to change this. New York State should make investing in bridge programs part of its workforce development plan.
Read the full article about bridge programs from Gotham Gazette at MDRC.