Lake Land College President September 2022 Editorial

Mattoon, IL-(Effingham Radio)- Celebrating National Adult Education and Literacy Week

In September, we celebrate the positive impact Adult Education and Literacy programs have in providing educational opportunities and economic growth in our communities.

Lake Land College’s Adult Education programs empower adult learners with necessary skills, tools and resources to progress in their lives and careers. This is exemplified in the story of Demarko Hull who earned a basic welding certification through the Lake Land College Adult Education program in 2019.

While attending classes, Demarko was living in a one-bedroom apartment with his son while working part time and driving a long commute every day. Today, he is the proud owner of his own welding business called Hull Boys Welding and Fabrication LLC.

In addition to vocational training, Adult Education offers GED preparation, basic reading instruction and English as a second language at multiple sites throughout the college district. As a community service, free food service sanitation certification courses are offered in rotating locations throughout the year.

In the 2021-2022 academic year, the Lake Land Adult Education program served 243 students. In May 2022, 38 of the students celebrated with their families and college community at the GED Graduation Ceremony.

Several of these graduates are continuing on in their educational journey to earn a college certificate or degree, opting for careers in healthcare, cosmetology, automotive, CDL and welding – all career paths that move students from low-income jobs and limited opportunities to middle- class wages and increased family sustainability.

Lake Land College also partners with programs such as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and CEFS to provide further educational and career opportunities for youth and adults.

Data from the Illinois Community College Board underscores the importance of working together to guide young adults toward the goal of obtaining a GED. The ICCB reports that those who do not have a high school diploma face more challenges with entering and remaining in the workforce. These individuals are twice as likely as their college-educated peers to be out of work, and more than 9 of every 10 new jobs go to college-educated candidates.

Adult Education, WIOA and CEFS programs provide a valuable service by empowering individuals and expanding the pool of qualified employees. When the educational attainment of a community grows, economic growth follows according to a recent study.

Maintaining a skilled workforce and recruiting entry-level employees was one of the top challenges brought forth by the community in last year’s Strategic Plan Survey Report. As a result of this feedback, two of the top priorities of the college’s FY 2023-2027 Strategic Plan are to close equity gaps and accessibility to an education, and to build relationships with education, community and workforce partners to support job readiness.

As we reflect on the positive impact adult education services have on our community, I look forward to discussing innovative ideas to encourage community members to take advantage of these services and develop partnerships to cultivate a qualified workforce for our region.

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