A Family-Sustaining Wage Requires Education; Adult Basic Skills Provides It
This post is the third in a BTC series highlighting cuts made in the 2011-2013 legislative budget that contributed extremely little towards reducing the budget writers’ $2.5 billion first-year budget gap, but which will have resounding negative impacts on public structures that enable economic recovery and create opportunities for broad-based prosperity.
More than half a million North Carolinians aged 25 to 54 don’t have a high school diploma. Increasingly, these working-age adults need a diploma to support their families and get ahead in the labor market.
Unfortunately, just as North Carolinians are returning to community colleges to get education and skills training that will allow them to compete for the jobs of the future, the Final Budget cut adult basic education funding by 12.4 percent, or $10 million in each year of the biennium. The loss of these dollars reduces support for educational courses that provide adults with the preparation to achieve a General Equivalency Diploma (GED) and move forward into additional education and skills training programs.
It also takes away from innovative efforts to strengthen and re-train North Carolina’s workforce on community college campuses, like the Basic Skills Plus initiative. This initiative is being watched nationally as a potential model for how to bridge the transition for adult workers between the attainment of basic skills and occupational credentials. The Basic Skills Plus initiative supports adults who are enrolled in both adult basic education or developmental education and occupational skills training with funding and additional programming and support. Students can thus be better prepared for employment.
Innovative approaches like the Basic Skills Plus initiative are critical to better economic outcomes for workers and business alike. With a more highly trained workforce, North Carolina will be better positioned to grow and sustain a strong economy in communities across the state.