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Fast tracking students into high-demand careers

Aug 7, 2019 : Articles

Your support of Literacy Pittsburgh positions students for success as workers, as parents and as neighbors. New CEO Carey Harris wants to make sure that you can help even more students achieve their career goals and support their families.

In spring 2019, Carey convened a group of community leaders to inform the transition into her new role and help shape Literacy Pittsburgh’s future priorities. These conversations centered around the unique role Literacy Pittsburgh can play in meeting a pressing regional need.

Employers in just about every sector are worried about their workforce pipeline. The gap between supply and demand is especially significant within middle-skill jobs. These are positions that require some job training but not a bachelor’s degree. Demand is expected to remain strong through at least 2024 and, best of all, these jobs offer a family-sustaining paycheck.

Together, we have an invaluable role to play in expanding the middle-skill workforce. Literacy Pittsburgh is working with thousands of adults to increase their basic reading, writing, math and workforce skills—prerequisites for advancement into middle-skill employment and beyond. While the region has many workforce development providers, they lack the capacity and expertise to deliver free, high-quality basic education.

At this moment, the region’s economic needs, our students’ goals and the interests of public and private investors converge around the opportunity to better serve more students and help them to achieve their career goals.

The committee identified three important needs for Literacy Pittsburgh.

  • Diversify student enrollment by serving more students with a 9th grade education but no high school diploma. These “fast-trackers” can quickly benefit from services and move to their next step.
  • Help students with career planning while they study with Literacy Pittsburgh because education is vital, but insufficient without a plan for the future.
  • Develop partnerships with workforce development providers, higher education institutions and employers to more fully realize Literacy Pittsburgh’s role as an important on-ramp to the workforce development system.

The committee recognizes the valuable role Literacy Pittsburgh can play in filling a gap in the current workforce development landscape.

Literacy Pittsburgh’s Board of Directors established three priorities (outlined below) to increase the organization’s role in creating a ready and relevant workforce. These steps boost our profile in the workforce development arena, grow existing partnerships, create a means to support students on their next steps, and prioritize agency infrastructure improvements.

Leveraging our strong growth and impressive track record to enable our students to be more ready and relevant for the region’s economic growth is the future of Literacy Pittsburgh. We thank you for being a part of our past, present and future.

Ready & Relevant Priorities

Workforce Development Pipeline

  • Further diversify our student population by growing the number of fast-trackers by 75% over the next three years to reach 26% of our student population.
  • Practice new approaches that reach this population by offering courses tailored directly to student career goals.
  • Expand workplace contracts to help employers retain and develop employees.

College And Career Services

  • More deliberately and comprehensively support a student’s journey through basic skills education to the next step.
  • Prioritize co-location with career services providers at our community sites.

Organizational Infrastructure

  • Elevate the role of data, information and planning.
  • Organize and expand staffing to improve outcomes. 
  • Diversify and grow public and private sector revenue to fuel operations and growth.

Transition Committee Members

Earl Buford
Partner4Work

Dr. Quintin Bullock
Community College of Allegheny County

Ed Denton
Denton/Neeley and Literacy Pittsburgh Board member

Michelle Figlar
Heinz Endowments

Jordan Golin
Jewish Family & Community Services

Tiffini Gorman
Office of Mayor Bill Peduto

Abigail Horn
Allegheny County Department of Human Services

Lisa Kuzma
Richard King Mellon Foundation

Vera Krekanova
Allegheny Conference on Community Development

Tom McGough
UPMC

Jess Mooney
Office of County Executive Rich Fitzgerald

Gary Singery
Literacy Pittsburgh Immediate Past Board President

Kathy Sullivan
Clark Hill LLC and Literacy Pittsburgh Board President

Literacy Pittsburgh (formerly Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council) helps create better lives through learning. Recognized as a national leader in adult and family literacy, Literacy Pittsburgh is the largest provider of adult basic education in Allegheny and Beaver Counties. Last year, Literacy Pittsburgh helped more than 4,600 individuals acquire reading, writing, math, English language, computer and workforce skills so they may reach their fullest potential in life and participate productively in their communities. Literacy Pittsburgh provides free, personalized instruction in workforce readiness, high school diploma test preparation, English as a second language, basic skills, and family literacy through one-to-one and small class instruction, along with referrals to other family support organizations. Founded in 1982, it serves local adults through numerous neighborhood locations and its Downtown  Pittsburgh Learning Center.