Understanding Unique Training Needs for an Aging Workforce

October 8, 2019

In the United States, 44 million adults lack basic educational and workforce readiness skills, and 28 million do not have the basic digital skills needed for our ever-growing, digitally-enhanced workforce. For these people, getting on track for a job that comes with a livable wage starts with adult education. 

Adult education can come in the form of improving or expanding high school equivalency, learning English as a second language, career and technical education (CTE), and other offerings that ensure adult learners have the foundational skills they need to land a job, start a career, and/or advance to college.

In addition, adult education often provides the wrap-around services and support that many adult learners need to change the trajectory of their life, moving them to a place of financial independence. These wrap-around services can include professional development, interview and resume development support, or providing support to the educators who teach adult learners and run adult education programs so that they are best equipped to develop these unique learners.

By putting more Americans in jobs, adult education helps to stimulate economic growth, global competitiveness, and prosperity. When looking to educate adults, it's important to think first about their unique learning needs. 

Applied Digital Skills

Many jobs require basic digital skills and often, trainings on these types of skills aren't developed for an adult learner. The assumption is that adults have already mastered these skills. Here we are talking about applied digital skills such as learning how to set up an email account, set up an online budget, develop a business plan, work in the G Suite, and so much more. Technology giant, Google, brings these valuable skills to adult learners across the country, and to the educators who teach them, through a free video-based digital literacy curriculum that is rolling out in Boot Camps at state conferences across the country. 

The high-quality, ready-to-use videos are free and can be incorporated into their classrooms to give adult learners the digital skills they need for success in today’s job market and to help develop critical-thinking, organizational, and collaboration skills. 

A Variety of Training Methods

It’s important to include a variety of training options and, to the extent possible, make them efficient and convenient. One way to accomplish that is with training webinars. COABE works with adult educators and administrators and often finds that online webinars are the best format for reaching this audience in the time they  have available to self-learn. They can access their training in an easy-to-use video format, each at an hour long so educators can ”lunch and learn” right at their desks.

The webinars that COABE has found to be most helpful for adult educators are those that not only provide expert training but also share innovative adult education practices and programs on a range of topics, from cybersecurity and mathematical freedom to career pathways and basic adult education structure and activities. 

In an hour, viewers receive tools that they can apply to an existing program or they can be inspired to create something new in their community.

Learning Apps

People may think that an app is not the best way to reach an adult learner audience, but our research shows otherwise. When we want to get training into the hands of adults students, an app is an excellent option as they can learn on their own time at their own location. The key is to conduct an audience analysis to truly understand where adult learners are looking for education opportunities and leveraging strategic partnerships to get in front of the right audience and provide convenient, portable learning for the 1.5 million adult learners and nearly 44 million potential learners that are out there.  

Learn more about COABE’s work at www.coabe.org.