Theme: National recognition for meeting local needs
Just in the past few months, The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia has been represented on the national stage in three separate events. Our new program, Destination Workforce®, is being featured as an excellent example of what workforce education means under the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) legislation. LCNV participated in the National Skills Coalition Policy Summit in February, served on a workforce program panel at the national TESOL (Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages) Conference in Baltimore in March, presented at the COABE (Council on Adult Basic Education) Conference in Dallas in April and will be presenting at the EL Civics Symposium in Richmond. The roll out and development of WIOA is causing quite a stir in the field of adult education and literacy and The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia is part of the buzz.
The Literacy Council’s Destination Workforce® was not created with WIOA in mind, but with the intent of meeting LCNV learners where they are and breaking down one of the barriers that keep them from attending English class by holding classes at their worksite. LCNV’s vision is to work with small businesses that employ adults who lack the language skills to move up to a higher-level position, and provide English class in the context of their work environment to help those adults gain advancement. This same process with a similar goal is outlined in the WIOA legislation: adult education should partner with the business community and create education opportunities that lead to career pathways and strengthen the workforce. It is very flattering and exciting to be recognized for innovation -- innovation is an LCNV core value.
Last year LCNV researched, designed and piloted its first iteration of Destination Workforce® in partnership with local businesses. Workers from the hospitality industry participated in classes aligned with their shifts at their employer’s worksite throughout much of the year. Those results have been evaluated and an LCNV Team of staff and consultants are now designing the curricular framework looking particularly at best practices for teaching English language learners. The result will be a program model that LCNV will use to design job-specific classes that allow for employer input and will meet the needs of the workforce.
LCNV will begin marketing Destination Workforce® to local small businesses this spring and throughout the next year, building capacity while helping adult English language learners advance in their jobs and gain economic security. Destination Workforce® will first target employers who employ a significant number of adults with limited English language proficiency, and those industries that are growing in the region and seeking new employees. As the program grows, LCNV will offer Destination Workforce® at selected LCNV class sites to those seeking employment in industries most likely to be hiring. The success of LCNV’s new program will depend upon the investment and commitment of local business partners, but that is the core message and purpose of the WIOA legislation. Let’s hope that LCNV’s passion for teaching those most in need inspires a future workforce filled with diversity and life-long learners.
Patricia M. Donnelly, Executive Director