Builds an evidence base for future policy infrastructure changes regarding adult learning models by discussing the challenges and solutions currently facing the field.

This paper discusses ideas from a 2006 symposium in which panelists identified needs and challenges around building “a ladder of opportunity to improve adult learning in the 21st century” (p.1). Specific discussion topics that the authors examine in this paper include innovative program models; leveraging technology; reaching untapped populations; the need for leadership and evidence; and professional development needs among the adult education workforce. “This paper explores these challenges and solutions in more detail, offering many ideas and alternatives for program delivery and policy infrastructure that could change the odds for adult learners in the United States. Based on the research, it is clear that reforms need to be undertaken to ensure that the potential of the low-skilled adult population can be realized” (p.1).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

“Changing the odds for low-income, low-skilled adults is going to require focused efforts in multiple sectors to acknowledge and address the existing barriers to their participation, access, achievement, and transition to further education and training. Addressing infrastructure barriers through policy changes is critical. The levers of reauthorization of WIA and funding of the American Graduation Initiative are important actions to take immediately” (p.26). [Note: this paper was published prior to the release of the 2015 Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA)] “The demographic and economic trends and pressures domestically and internationally highlight the dire need to pay attention to this long-ignored segment of our population. The engagement and partnership of other public and private agencies to create more robust avenues for advancement is critical and requires clear communication from the adult education field about needs and opportunities” (p.26). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)