By Pat Griffin, Associate Director, Interlocal Association
As a Board member with the Indiana Literacy Association, my background is not in providing literacy services, rather, my career is in the administration of workforce development programs. While participating less than a year now as an ILA Board member, I have become increasingly aware of the connections as well as disconnects regarding coordinating literacy programs with workforce development program offerings.
The Workforce development system provides services to the general public in WorkOne locations but often times in many other places within a community, such as Community Based Organizations and Libraries.
Staff employed by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and local service providers follow a set of policies and guidelines set by DWD as well as local Workforce Development Boards as they operate their services throughout the State, primarily in WorkOne locations. There are more similarities than not.
In past years, it was a mode of operation for staff in the workforce development arena to make referrals to literacy providers when the customer coming in the door was not able to complete certain basic assessments that were identified as necessary to show work readiness or readiness to participate in any advanced educational training programs. This barrier of low reading, writing and math skills created an image of someone that was not yet able to meet the needs of the employer community, thus a referral was made to get this necessary ingredient taken care of first, then they were asked to return for further consideration.
It is important in today’s world to know one another and share our resources. Together we can raise skill levels, provide job readiness and offer training programs as well as get our customers employed. Lower literacy skills may not keep someone from getting employed after all, and there are many short term career ladder programs people with lower math and reading levels may participate in, funded by the WorkINdiana funding source. There are some criteria for being able to access this training, and staff in the WorkOne can identify this for you if there is a certain student you have in mind. Be sure to take the time to look up your local Workforce Development program staff and get to know them. We have encouraged our staff to do likewise and get to know their literacy providers.
We can join together to celebrate the success stories of our mutual clientele!