Meadville Tribune

Local News

April 16, 2014

Crawford County Literary Council plans roundtable breakfast

The Crawford County Literacy Council plans to guide the community on a new effort toward giving adults the skills necessary to become productive members of the workforce, according to Armendia Dixon, executive director for the Crawford County READ Program.

The first step, a roundtable breakfast, is April 24 from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at Stone United Methodist Church in Meadville with the assistance of local business leaders, government officials, educators and more to discuss how to reskill adults entering the workforce.

“You hear that there are no jobs in Crawford County,” Dixon said. “We do have jobs. Then you hear no one is qualified for those jobs and that’s the sad part. We do whatever we can to prepare people to go on jobs and stay there and be able to contribute whatever is required.”

Roundtable invitation recipients have already been sent a list of questions pertaining to adult learning; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields; career placement and more.

That way, every roundtable participant, whether they get to speak at the event or not, will have given input.

Questions are based on an international report that was developed by the U.S. Department of Education. The statistics generally place the U.S. below the international average in literacy, mathematical ability and problem solving in technology-rich environments, with large numbers of people at low proficiency levels.

Additionally, READ Program literacy statistics for 2014 show about 13 percent of Crawford County residents are reading at or below literacy level, an approximate 3 percent drop from last year. That figure represents 11,670 residents out of the county’s 88,411 population, according to the program’s data.

Ideally, a committee will be formed from the roundtable discussion to create a plan to help people learn new skills from the participants’ responses and make a recommendation as to how Crawford County can reskill adults, according to Dixon.

“People think we’re just talking about reading,” she said. “We’re also talking about math, writing, communication, even science, the STEM that we need to focus on, social studies, all of those basic things we need to know.”

She also mentioned teaching “soft skills,” for instance, professional interaction, work ethic, punctuality and other skills not immediately thought of when discussing reskilling.

Once a formal recommendation is made and accepted by the roundtable, it will be presented to the community and available for public input.

“We’ll have a public forum and draw up an action plan (with) the community’s input,” Dixon said. “We don’t want a report where people just talk and nothing ever happens. I think we’re known in Crawford County for (accomplishing) things, so we want to make sure things happen in response.”

Hopefully when the county looks back on reskilling discussions in another year or so, things will be much better, she added.

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