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Workforce NY 2008 Spring Conference June 12, 2008 Presentation by Tara Colton, Deputy Director, Center for an Urban Future Kevin Smith, Executive Director,

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Presentation on theme: "Workforce NY 2008 Spring Conference June 12, 2008 Presentation by Tara Colton, Deputy Director, Center for an Urban Future Kevin Smith, Executive Director,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Workforce NY 2008 Spring Conference June 12, 2008 Presentation by Tara Colton, Deputy Director, Center for an Urban Future Kevin Smith, Executive Director, Literacy New York Lost in Translation: Strengthening English Language Skills as a Workforce and Economic Development Strategy

2 Presentation Overview Introduction, session goals and participants Data: Immigration and English proficiency in New York State Literacy and ESOL in New York State, capacity of adult education system Limited English proficiency: economic impact and workforce development potential Intersection of WIA Title I and II Best practice: I-BEST Possibilities and next steps






8 Literacy in New York State The National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) report was released by the United States Department of Education the first update of adult literacy skills in the U.S. in more than 10 years. One of only six states that opted to perform a detailed state assessment, a 2003 New York State Assessment of Adult Literacy (SAAL) was conducted to assess the prose, document, and quantitative literacy of New Yorks adults. The SAAL report indicates that New York is still lagging behind the nation in almost all aspects of literacy skills. The report serves as a reminder that New York State must give adult literacy more attention and support despite being one of the top contributors to adult literacy in the nation. The national literacy system is serving below 2% of those considered to be in need of literacy and language development. New York has a competent adult education system that can and should expand its capacity to meet a larger demand.

9 Literacy in New York State A higher percentage of adults in New York were below basic prose literacy compared with the national average Average prose literacy level of Black and Asian/Pacific Islander adults in New York was significantly lower than that of the same population nationally The average literacy of women in New York was significantly lower than the average literacy among women nationally in each of the three literacy scales. Across the literacy scales, adults with whom English is a second language accounted for the largest percentage of adults below basic prose literacy. More than half of the adults in New York who did not graduate from high school had below basic prose literacy Without proper funding for literacy services, many people will not learn the skills to find employment, succeed in school and perform basic social functions such as writing a check or reading a drug prescription


11 Growing demand for ESOL in New York State In 2006, 1.75 million working-age adults in New York State had limited English proficiency but just 86,948 seats in state-run ESOL programs – serving just 5.0 percent of the need More than one in four adult New Yorkers are now foreign-born – huge spikes in immigration all over the state Demand for ESOL continues to increase throughout the state but supply of state-funded ESOL hasnt kept pace with growing demand. Total funding about $74 million.


13 For more details & county-level data Lost in Translation (2006 report) Still Lost in Translation (2007 updated statistics) Developing New Yorks New Workforce: Could Enhancing English-Language Programs Boost the States Economic Competitiveness (Transcript of 2007 conference)

14 Why is learning English a workforce development issue? Workers with limited English skills often cant advance beyond the entry level In todays knowledge economy, workers need English to communicate with employers, co- workers and customers They cant access a career ladder unless they can communicate in English This leaves thousands of immigrants – with strong work ethics and valuable technical skills – stuck in dead-end jobs because of their limited English skills

15 Larger economic impacts Limited English skills among the immigrant workforce means that businesses looking to relocate or expand may go elsewhere It also reduces productivity, increases turnover and makes it hard for businesses to grow their jobs Businesses cant promote their entry-level staff and have to spend time and money finding and training replacements

16 An example: Karp Associates 50-year-old company in Queens, New York that manufactures access doors 100 employees, many are immigrants who came to America with advanced technical abilities but speak little English Right now, our company is handicapped. Our growth is limited by the language and labor skills that we need. Its absolutely the biggest issue were dealing with.

17 Funding challenges Largest funding pot (EPE) isnt available to many providers; has outdated formula; cant roll over funds from one year to the next Adult Literacy Education (ALE) funding hasnt kept pace with inflation Hard to link WIA Title I and II Attempted cuts at the federal level Businesses, chambers of commerce and foundations can play a larger role

18 Intersection of WIA Title I and II WIA Title I administered by State DOL, Title II by State DOE Title I can be used for ESOL, but its not easy and blending the funding streams presents obstacles Workplace ESOL is the most common training request from [New York] city businesses. But providing such training through existing Workforce 1 [WIA Title IB funds] funding streams alone, while not impossible, is difficult

19 Best practice: I-BEST Washington States non-English speaking population more than doubled from 1990 to 2000 State leaders created the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training initiative (I-BEST) at the states community and technical colleges Pairs an ESOL or ABE instructor with a vocational instructor Fields like commercial driving, nursing, early childhood education, construction Impressive outcomes: Students in the pilot earned 5 times as many college credits than traditional ESOL students 15 times more likely to complete workforce training 33 of the states colleges now offer I-BEST, expansion planned

20 Looking forward - recommendations Make adult education and ESOL a higher priority for the city and state This is a workforce and economic development issue Return on investment/makes economic sense Expand funding for ESOL, at the city, state and federal level Reform outdated funding streams in NYS Tap into workforce funding streams for ESOL, improve connection between WIA Title I and II Increase involvement from the private sector – funding for programs, small business pooling, release time, wage gains, promotions

21 Contact us Tara Colton Deputy Director, Center for an Urban Future Phone: (212) 479-3341 Email: Kevin Smith Executive Director, Literacy New York Phone: (716) 631-5282 Email:

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