Preparing Workers for the 21st Century

Good day or evening, all!

A colleague shared a curriculum with me that I’m now using to teach adults basic skills in the context of work - others may find it useful as well. Please see:

Preparing Workers for 21st Century Employment: Making the Most of a Job, Making Sense of Math at Work, and Written Communication in the Workplace (a project of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth Office of Adult Education)

While I am still working my way through this treasure trove, what I enjoy about it most are the real-life scenarios and examples of reading, writing, and math situations in which adult students could likely find themselves.

The underlying premise of the curriculum seems captured with this statement by the developers:

“Over and over again we were told that despite SCANS, despite inclusion of “employability skills” in training programs and many other efforts the main complaint continues to be that new hires often don’t have the work ethic that employers expect.”

While the title indicates these are skills to prep workers for the 21st century, I find it useful today.

I’m wondering -- what are others using to contextualize basic skills and soft skills instruction in the context of work? How are staff developers helping teachers to prepare adults for the workplace? Do you find it to be true that new hires still don't have the "work ethic" that employers expect? What, if anything, do we need to be doing differently to help our adult students succeed in the workplace?

I look forward to hearing from you,


Jackie Taylor



Dear Colleagues,

I don't know if you saw my initial post so I am resending. I would like to know what others are using to teach basic skills and soft skills in the context of work. Anyone?


Jackie Taylor

I appreciate the link and will explore later...I am at a conference (TLC in Myrtle Beach) and in a session about LINCS...w/ Bill and Duren.

My concern primarily now is how to help/teach thinking skills....the new GED is a "thinking test" and I don't know how to teach that or in my case teach teachers in adult ed to teach students to think....Fractions, yes, we can teach that...reading, yes...but teaching to think...WOW...hard.


The MAEDP materials are terrific. I just recommended them to a colleague working in Singapore! For additional ideas on how to integrate these skills into ESOL classes, I recommend taking a look at Ronna Magy and Donna Price's 2011 CATESOL handout which is online at 


Jayme Adelson-Goldstein


I see that Dr. Hargrove already commented below on the website (, but I wanted to correct the acronym in your post. The materials are from MAEPD (Michigan Adult Education Professional Development).  Wonderful materials from every area of adult education can be accessed there.  

Rochelle Kenyon, SME

Disabilities in Adult Education Group

I was spoonerizing acronyms all day yesterday--but hopefully since I was responding to Debra's post, no one got confused by the typo.


Hi Jackie and others,

I work with the group of folks who assist Michigan's Adult Educators (manage the website) and I've just posted 3 updates to the Preparing Workers Curriculum (like just yesterday)... Visitors can now see an updated version of the Reading, Writing and Math Workbooks at the same link. 

It is truly GREAT stuff! I'll share with my colleagues your kind words regarding their hard work. It was a statewide effort. I think what makes it so meaningful is that they went out and actually interviewed all these business leaders to get first hand knowledge of what workers are lacking in the workplace and then collaborated with Michigan Adult Educators on the development of the content.

Thanks for sharing!

Deb Hargrove


Thanks for the updates to your program; I use the math version of "Preparing Workers for 21st Century Employment" in my Pre GED math class at the Lapeer ISD.  A mini lesson is included each session. Last week I presented: "Scenario 17: A Taxing Situation - Felix.  It focused on  exemptions, payroll deductions and information on tax rates.  My students were engaged in the discussion and found the 15 minute segment useful.

Thank you for your continued work on the program and for the improvements

Harold Greblo



Hi Deb,

That's great news! I'll tell my co-teacher about the updates today and I look forward to downloading the new content!

I like the curriculum for all the reasons you mentioned. I also like the user-friendly format so I can "grab and go" when I have the opportunity to supplement lessons based on student questions and classroom discussion that day.

Kudos to the Michigan Adult Educators -- and thank you!


Jackie Taylor

Evidence-based Professional Development SME

Adult Educator, Blount County Adult Education, TN


That's really a great idea to send ESOL students to workplaces to interview business leaders and maybe not only leaders there and find out what is really needed from workers to satisfy the requirements in the workplace.  In class students will share the information, which is good not only for their conversation class, but could be a great topic for their writing.