Archive for the ‘Vocational Training’ Category

Adult Literacy Education Providers Prep for WIOA’s Integrated Education and Training pt 1

November 28, 2014 Leave a comment

WIOA SuccessIn her article “What you need to know: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)” Melinda Mack, Executive Director, New York Association of Training & Employment Professionals says:

 WIOA’s Intention for Literacy is to “deepen connection between Title I and Title II, through nimble career pathways and vocationally focused literacy (most common example is the I-Best model out of Washington State)‘; including serving low-basic skilled”

These career pathways must be in high-skill, high-wage job industries.  Adult Education providers should already be looking for the best ways to fulfill this requirement. The high-skill/high-wage jobs may vary from one area to the next; but, the most typical industries will be healthcare, Computer Science/ Computer Network Technology, Accounting, and Manufacturing Technology. According to ManPower Group, The 10 Hardest Jobs To Fill In 2014 are:

I’m pretty sure career pathways in these industries would satisfy WIOA’s intentions for integrated, job-driven training. Adult education providers should check with your local Workforce Investment Board (WIB) for education and training needs for your region. The WIB produces reports showing which industries in your area are growing, shrinking, and are expected to remain flat. WIOA will also require education providers and local WIBs to work more closely together; so, this information should be pretty easy to obtain. For literacy-level programs, we’ll just need to get students moving along the pathway towards particular industry and help prepare them for entry-level work in fields with great job growth potential. We’ll do this by providing  “Integrated Education and Training” – the combining adult education and literacy activities concurrently and contextually with workforce preparation activities and workforce training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster for the purpose of educational and career advancement. Literacy education providers need curriculum that is suitable for this type of learning.

Please keep checking back for more information. We have quite a bit to do and learn before WIOA goes into effect.

Hats off to you!

Michelle Walker-Wade Workforce, Training & Development Professional

Michelle Walker-Wade
Workforce, Training & Development



WIOA!!! What’s Going to Happen to Low-Literacy Adults?

September 17, 2014 2 comments

The current federally-funded adult education system reaches fewer than 6 percent of the 36 million adults with severe deficits in WORKFORCE literacy. Ready to Work: Job Driven Training and American Opportunity,  the July 2014  White House study outlining future directions for career and college readiness through WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act), mandates more collaboration between Education and Labor and stronger business involvement (by sponsoring apprenticeship and other on-the-job training, including for services for “lower skilled” adults). Some of the changes necessary to remain a federally-funded adult education provider under WIOA will be a difficult transition for many providers and learners. I believe we’ll continue seeing program closures, as only the “strong” will survive.

Workforce literacy curriculum is generally out of reach for an alarmingly high number of adults whose reading skills are 4th grade a lower. For this population of learners we’ll most likely see an increase in community-based, volunteer-driven organizations become the major service providers of low-literacy adults for whom getting a job or going to college is not their goal.

The issues with literacy as it pertains to basic skills and workforce readiness only make an impact in the political and other legislative circles when the problems created by it weakens our economy. As long as the illiterate can be “contained” or “controlled” (and I use those terms with no disrespect to the citizens at large) with government subsidized programs, illiteracy can remain a low priority. However, because “the powers that be” are beginning to realize the long-term economic impact illiteracy is having on our skilled workforce, it has become a major priority. We have yet to see to what level of illiteracy will the funding flow.

What kind of alternatives will it create for the 50 year-old native English speaker who can only read at a 1st or 2nd grade-level? Or for the 40-year old non-native English speaker who was an Accountant in his/her home country? Believe it or not there are MANY adults working in  American factories who cannot read or write. I had many adults go through my training program who had been laid off of their factory jobs after 30 years of US employment. Some were totally illiterate even in their own native language. Most could not read even at 3rd grade level. Many could not speak nor understand spoken English.

We’re already seeing libraries picking up the slack in low-literacy instruction; but it will be interesting how they handle the coming capacity. Library literacy programs have been around for decades and they continue finding new ways to meet community needs such as adult literacy. In California, the State legislated library-based adult literacy programs 30 years ago; but I do not believe we’ll see a shift in federal funding for it. There are also many community development corporations providing literacy-based education as well. These organizations depend on volunteers to maintain their literacy programs; but, as one agency’s Volunteer Coordinator says: “it will be hard to have enough long-term volunteers as finding volunteers who want to commit for a long time is already challenging…”

How can organizations prepare for the growing dilemma? Here are a few suggestions:

 Increase Partnerships and Service Locations

  • Partner with local churches and/or religious assembly.  Ask them to make adult literacy a part of their regular Religious Education programming, offering literacy at the same time and location as their other “study” meetings. Get volunteers from these organizations to teach/tutor the learners.
  • Partner with local Family Literacy programs; think of a way to effectively combine k-5 homework clubs with literacy help for their parents.


Leverage Use of Technology

  • Spend time now teaching higher-level literacy students more digital literacy and collaborative learning skills. Transition cohorts of students into learning quads that use eLearning and collaboration for 75% – 80% of their instruction, and a live teacher/trainer for the remaining 20-25%.
  • Beef-up your distance learning program and curriculum. Build in more expectations and accountability measures for participants.


I know it will be tough getting learners and educators to think differently about these changes. Plain and simple, instructional delivery will be different. As these restrictions play themselves out everyone will have to accept the inevitable. Acceptance is the first step to empowerment!



What Can I Do With That Degree?

Provided by Fotolia

We have built up the idea of getting a college degree as the complete key to success; yet, we clearly see that simply having a great education and an earned degree isn’t enough to keep you from being an unemployed (or under employed) job-seeker. Vocational colleges, on the other hand, have tooted their horn that students can quickly get in, get the skills needed for a particular career, and get to work.

I’m an advocate of education, and my particular area of interest is career education, having over 12 years of experience in this field. I talk to many adults trying to make decisions about their career, who are in transition, and who wonder should they go back to college for a 4-year degree, or go to a vocational institution and get a new job skill.  There is no one right answer.  Determining which way to go, and WHEN to take which move first requires a series conversations, soul searching, and personal research.  The money and time you are getting ready to invest in “re-tooling” yourself should not be a quick, brash decision. As an adult learner with adult life responsibilities you must  critically listen to college and career institution recruiters, and then do your own research.  You should take time to find the answers for yourself to questions like:

  • What can I REALLY do with that degree?
  • Will that degree be enough, or will I need an advanced or accompanying degree to land a good job?
  • How plenteous are the jobs in this field in my geographical area?
  • What companies in my area look for people with my degree and or skill?
  • Will my degree be enough, or will the employer want me to have other skills as well?
  • What is the future of my industry of choice?
  • Will the jobs I see now still be the same when I’ve finished my studies?

These questions can be daunting, time-consuming, and if not approached with the right attitude, could make a person less motivated to persist.  But, trust me, and the thousands of degreed job-seekers whose student loan payments are eating them alive, getting the strategy upfront is much better than dealing with the crisis afterwards.

My opening question was: What can I do with that degree?  Not looking at degrees such as Business, Marketing, Education, and other job-focused degrees, I want to give you a few resources to check out. The information here is just enough to give you some ideas, but it is in no way enough to say you’ve done your research. Take a look, and leave some feedback if you will.


If you have any insight on the following degrees (undergraduate level preferred) please do share.

Agriculture Anthropology Art History Biology
Chemistry Communications Cultural Studies Creative Writing
Dance English Environmental Studies Fine Arts
Health Science History Human Development Humanities
Human Sexuality Industrial Design Kinesiology Life Science
Linguistics Marine Biology/Science Mass Media Microbiology
Music Natural Science Philosophy Physics
Political Science Public Relations Regenerative Studies Religious Studies
Statistics Telecommunication Systems TESOL Technical Studies
Urban Studies Wildlife Management Women’s Studies Zoology

~ Blessings to you!

Michelle Walker-Wade Workplace Literacy Expert

Michelle Walker-Wade
Workplace Literacy Expert

This is Not Your Ole’ School Manufacturing Job – CNC Skills Required!

February 21, 2012 3 comments

I’m hearing lots of chit-chatter about bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States so we can get Americans working again. I’m all for it and believe it is the right move to make. However, my friends, let’s not convince ourselves that we’re ready to waltz our way into these positions.

According to information explained in this article [U.S. manufacturing sees shortage of skilled factory workers], the United States has had a shortage of qualified manufacturing workers for quite some time.  You can read the article in its entirety, but I want to highlight a few points from it so you can quickly see the challenges and opportunities facing our workforce.

      • Our current losses have NOT left a surplus of skilled factory workers who have the skills needed for today’s manufacturing careers. On the contrary there are many factory workers who have lost their jobs because their manufacturing skills are out dated.
      • The manufacturing industry does not have a shortage of workers who can run old-fashioned presses and lathes; but it does have a shortage of workers who can handle the new technology of the industry.
      • You can get the CNC skills needed by looking for training  and/or degree programs in machine tool technology from a community college or vocational school. More ROPs should consider offering these courses to high schoolers as well. (see the listing below)
      • Just because the machinist needs to be more skilled does not mean this job is no longer a “shop job”.  Machinists will still work in noisy and somewhat unclean conditions wearing uniforms that get a little dirty, but these blue-collar workers will make approximately $4/hour more than their white-collar counterparts.

In closing, I’d like to take some words straight from the original article’s section called “New Recruiting Tactics”.  It says:

“The shortage has forced firms to adopt new tactics.  To fill slots, a few manufacturers have turned to hiring candidates who are untrained but have the inclination to work with their hands…. ‘We knew that we were not going to find the people with the right skills right off the streets,’ said Mark Pringle, director of operations at the plant. “So we tried to find people with the right aptitudes.’”

So, there you have it; all of you who look forward to the re-birth of manufacturing in the United States, we’ve got our work cut out for us.  My recommendation to anyone remotely interested in getting into manufacturing is this:  Don’t wait for the jobs to come back to your neighborhood before preparing for them.  You are now informed of the challenges and opportunities ahead, so get in school and prepare now.

Here are a few schools and training centers in California that offer CNC coursework.  If you know of any more, please let me know so I can add them to the list. You’ll need to brush up on those math (algebra), reading, and problem-solving skills to survive these courses.

City School/Training Center Website
Anaheim North Orange County ROP
Fresno Fresno City College – CNC Degree
Fullerton Fullerton College
Glendale Glendale Community College – CNC Degree
Hayward Chabot Community College – Certificate in CNC Programming
Los Angeles Los Angeles Trade Technical College – AS in CNC
Modesto, CA Modesto Junior College – Machine & Tool Tech
Norwalk, CA NTMA Training Center
Ontario, CA NTMA Training Center
Reedley, CA Reedley College – Manufacturing Technology Machine Shop
Riverside, CA Masters Vocational College
San Bernardino San Bernardino Valley College
San Jose TTL College
San Jose San Jose City College  – Machine Technology (CNC)
San Jose San Jose State University – Degree in
Santa Ana Santa Ana College – CNC degrees

Before you go, check out this youtube video:

I hope this helps get you moving in the right direction.  Blessings!
~ Michelle Walker-Wade

Workplace Literacy Opportunity – Deli Clerk Needs Help

January 7, 2012 1 comment

I went to Safeway’s deli to order a sandwich the other day. I approached the countertop as the deli clerk said, “May I help you?” She was Hispanic, appeared to be about 30 years old, and had a strong accent. Since I work primarily with adult learners who are non-native English speakers, my deli clerk’s accent was not a challenge for me at all.  I proceeded to order my custom-order sandwich only to find out that the deli clerk did not know the names of meats, cheeses, produce and the variety of breads in English. She was able to carry on a general conversation with me, using language skills she could have learned in a general English as a Second (ESL) language class where the topical lessons are around Life Skills. She, however, lacked the language skills to communicate verbally on something like wheat bread, soft roll, focaccia bread, cheddar cheese, or havarti cheese.  She did not understand statements like “light mayo” or “extra pickles please”.

I felt for her and wished I could stay there long enough to do some workplace literacy vocabulary-building lessons, specially designed to prepare her to do well as a deli clerk. I know there is a real need to provide these types of literacy classes in my community. I can’t help but wonder how long this particular lady will be able to keep her job.  I do know that Workplace Literacy classes can help her succeed.

“Occupy Student Debt”? I Understand… But I Must Pay Up

November 22, 2011 Leave a comment

I attended Oral Roberts University for ONE year studying Christian Education & Psychology. After seeing the amount of debt accumulated for that year, my parents said: “Come home…” I cried and cried… prayed asked God for a miracle so I could stay at ORU. But, to no avail.

I went home, started working as an accounting clerk and went to school part-time studying accounting. I continued working in the field of accounting for several years while preparing to do more meaningful work.  I eventually got there.

Years later I do not regret it one bit. I’m degree’d in Liberal Studies and Business Communications, and have hard-core skills and work experience that allow me to fund into ministry work. Having graduated from a Holy Names University, a private, Catholic institution, I took out even more student loans.  I am still paying for my education, but in my situation I believe I glorify God by paying my loans.  However, (just as an FYI) I neither agree nor disagree with the Occupy Study Loan initiative – but I certainly understand.

Related Articles:

Skills Needed by School Clerical Support Staff

August 2, 2011 Leave a comment

We surveyed clerical support workers at several K-12 school-sites to find out what skills current school clerical support workers needed most to do there jobs more efficiently (click to see results). We also surveyed local residents to find out what barriers kept them from taking the courses needed to improve their work and career outlook. The number one response was: time. If time is limited but you want to gain more skills, online classes may be a good alternative to traditional classes.
School clerical support staff; consider these online classes as an option to learn ways to work more efficiently and effectively.


  •  Grammar Refresher– Gain confidence in your ability to produce clean, grammatically correct documents and speeches.  (click here:
  • Effective Business Writing – Improve your career prospects by learning how to develop powerful written documents that draw readers in and keep them motivated to continue to the end. (click here

Administrative Support

  • Administrative Assistant Fundamentals – Prepare to take advantage of the many new job opportunities in health care, legal services, and other industries. (click here:
  • Introduction to Nonprofit Management – Develop the skills and strategies you need to become an integral part of one of America’s fastest growing service sectors. (click here:

Computer & Technology Skills

  • Intermediate Microsoft Word 2007 – Learn more advanced features of Microsoft Word 2007, which enable you to create an index, a list of figures, and a table of contents, do desktop publishing, perform a mail merge, and use timesaving macros. (NOTE: If you do not feel ready for Intermediate Microsoft Word, take Introduction for Microsoft Word 2007 first). (Click here:
  • Introduction to Microsoft Excel 2007 – Do you work with numbers? You need to know Excel. Learn the secrets of this powerful application. (click here:
  • Photographing People with Your Digital Camera – Learn to take beautiful pictures of adults, children, and babies. (click here:

Other Recommended Courses

  • Handling Medical Emergencies – Every second counts during a medical emergency. Learn how to respond if someone needs your help. (Click here:
  • Designing Effective Websites – Learn powerful graphic design techniques and build Web sites that are both attractive and wickedly effective. (click here:
  • Introduction to Adobe Acrobat 9 – Create PDF documents and more with Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro, and learn to use many of the software’s time- and cost-saving features. (click here:

If you want to become the Office Manager, consider these courses as well:

  • Fundamentals of Supervision and Management – Learn the people skills required to motivate and delegate, and learn tools for solving problems and resolving conflicts. (
  • Accounting Fundamentals – Gain a marketable new skill by learning the basics of double-entry bookkeeping, financial reporting, and more. (
  • Accounting Fundamentals II – Give yourself skills that are in high demand by exploring corporate accounting with a veteran instructor. (
  • Introduction to QuickBooks 2009 or 2010 – Learn how to quickly and efficiently gain control over the financial aspects of your business. (Click here:

Check it out and share your feedback.  Thanks!

– Michelle Walker-Wade