Highlights key results from an initiative designed to increase the number of low-skilled adults with post-secondary credentials through aligned, streamlined sector programming.

“Between 2007 and 2011, the Joyce Foundation awarded grants totaling $8 million to Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin with the expectation the states would develop new ways to make existing education and skills development systems work better for adult learners…by developing innovative ideas and policies enabling low-skilled adults to advance in education and training and move up in the labor market.

State agency leaders representing the three disparate systems – adult basic education, workforce development and community and technical colleges – needed to develop a common vision to improve postsecondary entry and success of low-skilled adults. And then, they needed to collaborate on policy reforms to achieve it” (p.4).

"The Shifting Gears work in the six states has been consequential, touching a number of institutions and practitioners, especially in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Although the number of low-skilled adults being served through these innovative strategies is modest, these four states appear to be building a foundation for systems change and, after five years, have demonstrated a positive trajectory toward this longer-term goal. The continued work of these states over the next several years will show how much further they can advance their systems change effort” (p.8). (Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

“By the end of the five-year period, four of the six Shifting Gears states had implemented innovative strategies to serve low-skilled adults. Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin succeeded in enrolling a total of about 4,000 low-skilled adults in their innovative programs—a modest number that is expected to grow considerably during the next several years as these strategies and program are embraced by more organizations within the states” (p.7). “Innovative strategies implemented by the states included: • A career pathway system that provides adult basic education students (WorkINdiana)…, • A bridge and career pathway initiative, known as Minnesota FastTRAC ..., and • A career pathway and bridges program, known as RISE (Regional Industry Skills Education). • Although Michigan and Ohio did not achieve the outcomes recorded by the other four states, their work did produce some benefits. Efforts in both states increased awareness among state and local policy makers of the need to improve the education and skill levels of adult workers” (p.8). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)