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Implementing the Employability Skills Framework in the Adult Basic Education Classroom

Welcome to the discussion on integrating employability skills into adult education instruction! To get started, I encourage you to check out the Employability Skills Framework website (, where you will find an interactive framework, criteria for selecting an employability skills assessment, and other resources.  See also this page especially for instructors:

What are employability skills? The Employability Skills Framework defines employability skills as the “general skills needed for success in the labor market at all employment levels and for all industries.” Along with academic and technical skills, employability skills are a key component of college and career readiness.

Why are employability skills important? Listen to this short clip from IBM’s Grace Suh, Manager, Education Initiatives, Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs (excerpted from an earlier presentation).

In addition to asking questions and sharing ideas here, please join us for a webinar on December 3rd at 3pm Eastern to discuss strategies and resources for teaching employability skills and exploring connections between the Employability Skills Framework and the College and Career Readiness Standards.


laurarasmussen's picture

Today’s discussion questions focus on employability skills instruction. Please comment and share ideas or resources!

  • Are you currently teaching employability skills as part of your ABE, ASE, or ESL instruction? Why or why not?
  • How are you teaching employability skills as part of your ELA/literacy and/or math curricula?
  • What questions do you have about teaching employability skills?

To get us started, two of the webinar presenters have identified connections between the Employability Skills Framework and the College and Career Readiness Standards. Tune in on Wednesday to hear more!

From Meredith Liben, StandardsWork, Literacy Lead:

The College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education (CCR) establishes many criteria that overlap with the Employability Skills Framework. One of the chief influences on the development of the CCR was survey data from both employers and entry level college course instructors regarding the skills gaps they saw in the individuals entering the workplace and higher ed vs. the skills and knowledge they needed those students to have.

The CCR has at its core a demand for the skills and knowledge that would eliminate those gaps and is a pragmatic guide to readying students for successful transitions to the workplace or higher ed settings. 

Some examples of that practical approach are:

  • the degree to which speaking and listening standards are woven seamlessly into the reading and writing standards to create a coherent whole package of what it means to be a literate person.
  • the high value placed on learning from what you read and having that reading be primarily informational text
  • the demand for identifying and then providing evidence for what you believe to be true.
  •  the premium placed on learning how to organize and present that evidence through speaking or writing activities
  • an emphasis on tracing or developing arguments that are grounded in evidence
  •  the expectation that all students will be given access to text that is complex enough to ensure a steady staircase to achieving career and college reading proficiency
  • the demand that students collaborate with one another and work together regularly that is built into the speaking and listening standards

As state and program administrators grapple with what this move to college and career readiness standards will mean for their adult education instructors and students, they should be assured that the CCR has paid careful attention to employability skills that manifest themselves throughout the English Language Arts.

 From Kaye Forgione, StandardsWork, Math Coach:

Many states have either adopted the CCR standards for use in their adult education programs or have used the CCR standards as a benchmark as they revised their own standards.  Since the CCR standards for mathematics were written to reflect the knowledge and skills that employers say their employees need to be successful in the workplace, curriculum developed based on the CCR should provide many opportunities for teachers to integrate employability skills into their lessons.

The CCR standards consist of both math-specific standards that address the procedures and fluencies, conceptual understandings, and application skills that students need to know to be workplace ready AND the mathematical practices they need to be able to demonstrate to be productive workers and citizens.  The Standards for Mathematical Practice are a key component of the CCR standards for mathematics and reflect such critical skills as problem solving, reasoning, constructing arguments, using tools (including technology) strategically, and attending to precision.  All of these are skills that are embedded within the Employability Skills Framework.

What other connections do you see?

How are you teaching employability skills as part of your ELA/literacy and/or math curricula?

Robin Modlin's picture

Hello. I am part of a non-profit group that educates, assists with GED training, and helps clients find jobs. My particular program is EARN (Employment Advancement and Retention Network). My job is to become familiar with client history to determine what additional assistance is needed to obtain employment. As part of my class curriculum and orientation, I use specified training involving computer skills and various websites to enhance job search options. I also offer an interview workshop where we discuss how to play up strengths in a resume, the dos and don'ts of going to a job interview, and developing the skills needed for jobs applied for. 


My question is: Has anyone encountered barriers that could be eliminated through teaching employability skills or what methods are used in this case?

Stephanie Moran's picture

We require all ABE/ASE/GED students to also attend our College & Career Readiness class, which focuses on typing (now much needed for computer-based GED test), computer navigational skills, and the usual career exploration/resume/interviewing skills. Guest speakers from various industries and businesses also speak to students. This work is essential for any adult learner whether college or workplace bound, and the computer skills really help those older students who have a fear of computer and everyone who needs to improve typing speed and accuracy.

laurarasmussen's picture

Thanks for sharing information about your College & Career Readiness class. How often does the class met and for how long does it run? Who teaches the course? Great idea to bring in speakers from industry and business!

laurarasmussen's picture

Hi, Robin. Thanks for sharing information about the EARN program. Is the career preparation component integrated in with GED instruction or are the two taught separately? Also, good question about barriers. How are others teaching employability skills?

finnmiller's picture

Hello Meredith and Kaye, Thank you for sharing your expertise here on LINCS. Since I moderate the discussion for the Assessment Community of Practice, I'm wondering if you can share how this framework is being used to guide instructional decisions related to teaching employability skills and for assessment purposes.

I agree that the CCRS's emphasis on communicating effectively is invaluable for all learners, whether they are interested in postsecondary or work -- or even if they are only interested in being more engaged in their community. These skills are essential for everyone, including those who are learning English.

In my area of Pennsylvania, our one stop uses a program called Alchemy to teach and assess personal management and "soft skills." Are you familiar with this program?

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Assessment CoP

laurarasmussen's picture

How are you teaching employability skills? Share your ideas and resources here!

What activities or resources have you found particularly effective to support employability skills instruction?

How are you assessing employability skills?

mindbodydave's picture

Hello, Laura,

I would like to join the participants in the webinar today but, unfortunately, have another commitment.  Will it be archived?  





laurarasmussen's picture

Yes, the webinar will be archived. We'll post a link to the recording in this discussion thread once it's available. Thanks!

Gail Srebnik's picture

Hello, I have a huge concern about the changes coming that puts the emphasis on adult education and literacy to work force preparedness. I direct a program that consists of ABE and ESL adult literacy programs in a rural county.There is almost no public transportation throughout our county. We have little industry and a very high unemployment rate. Many jobs are seasonal farm work and there is little else. Many adults coming to these programs have specific personal goals that may, or may not, include job preparation. What are we to do when it is unrealistic to 'train' people for work that does not exist?

laurarasmussen's picture

Hi Gail. Great question about linking adult education to workforce training, especially in rural areas. As we'll discuss on Wednesday's webinar, employability skills are an essential component of both college and career readiness, along with academic and technical skills. So, these skills are important for all adults, not just those that indicate job preparation as their goals. I'll ask the webinar presenters to consider this question during Wednesday's event as well. What do other community members think about the importance of teaching employability skills in rural areas?

finnmiller's picture

Hi Gail, You raise a really important question that is relevant not just in rural areas but also in many other places where jobs are scarce --or where decent jobs are scarce -- such as certain urban areas.

One thing I've been thinking about is nurturing entrepreneurship. While I don't think -- by any means-- that starting a small business is the answer for everyone, it could be helpful to some. Some people start very small by doing yard work, taking care of other's animals, cleaning, selling things they grow in their gardens, taking care of elders or children, selling crafts, etc. Starting a micro business might be an idea worthy of pursuing for some people.

What employability skills do people who start their own micro business need?!

Cheers, Susan

Moderator, Assessment CoP

laurarasmussen's picture

We've had some really interesting comments posted about employability skills in this discussion.

We've heard that some adult education programs teach separate college and career readiness skill courses, while others integrate employability skills into ABE/ASE/GED instruction. How are you teaching employability skills? Please share your examples below!

We also had a question about teaching employability skills in rural areas. Why do you think these skills matter in areas with high unemployment and/or where few jobs may be available?

There was also a question about using the Employability Skills Framework to guide instruction and assessment. How might you use the Framework in your lesson planning?

Please share your thoughts about these questions and post any questions you may have for the webinar presenters.

I hope you'll join the webinar on Wednesday at 3pm Eastern to further discuss this topic!

Patty Higgins's picture

We are a strongly "local control" state, so we do not mandate any one curriculum over another.  We have adopted the CCRS from OCTAE.  A few years ago, we developed a supplemental curriculum called "Preparing Workers for the 21st Century," which targets the 4-6 grade level in reading, writing and math.  While it teaches basic skills, each lesson is a real-life workplace scenario that poses a dilemma and creates a discussion around how to deal with each dilemma.  There are no right or wrong answers, so students are forced to problem solve, make judgment calls and defend their opinions. Core employability skills are woven throughout the passages.  We have found this curriculum to be highly effective and entertaining.  Feel free to utilize it-can be found at  under the Teacher Resources tab.  It rocks!

Meryl Becker-Prezocki's picture

Hi Patty,

I am interested in reviewing the curriculum you mentioned but am unable to find it under the Teacher Resources tab.  Can you check it out for me?  Thanks.

Meryl Becker-Prezocki



laurarasmussen's picture

I hope you'll join the webinar at 3pm EST today to discuss: Implementing the Employability Skills Framework in the Adult Basic Education Classroom. See the agenda below and leave your questions for the webinar presenters in the discussion comments!


  • Welcome, Introductions, and Webinar Overview      

    • Laura Rasmussen Foster, RTI International
  • Why do Employability Skills Matter?  
    • Heidi Silver-Pacuilla, OCTAE
  • Overview of the Employability Skills Framework Website
    • Laura Rasmussen Foster, RTI International
  • Connections to the ABE College and Career Readiness Standards
    • ELA/literacy—Meredith Liben, StandardsWork
    • Math—Kaye Forgione, StandardsWork
  • Strategies and Resources for Teaching Employability Skills
    • Dr. Robert Witchger and Frank Scuiletti, North Carolina Community College System
Arlyn Freed's picture

Is this webinar available to watch asynchronously on the web? Are there any handouts/support materials and resources for review?  Thank you.

laurarasmussen's picture

Thanks to everyone who joined yesterday's webinar. The webinar materials will be sent shortly and we'll be posting questions that came up in the discussion here. In the meantime, please let us know what you learned during the webinar. What was your biggest take-away? What questions do you still have? What resources are you using to teach employability skills? 

Di Baycich's picture

Two things that I really appreciated were seeing how the CCR standards suppoort employabiliy skills and the wonderful resource developed by the North Carolina Community College System. Bravo!

laurarasmussen's picture

Thanks to everyone who attended last week's employability skills webinar. I'll be posting questions that came up during the webinar and responses. Please continue to share resources and ask questions!

Here are some questions about the CCR standards, EFL revisions, and use of the Employability Skills Framework:

QUESTION: What is the correlation between the CCR standards and ESL levels?

RESPONSE: OCTAE is currently determining the optimal strategy for updating the NRS EFL’s to reflect the education and employment needs of English language learners under WIOA. More information will be shared as it becomes available.


QUESTION: Will portfolios and/or checklists be used to measure EFL standards?

RESPONSE: It will be up to assessment developers to craft assessments that align with the CCR standards and the EFL descriptors.  This, however, does not preclude classroom teachers from using portfolios and checklists to assess student performance.  For more information on considerations related to selecting an employability skills assessment, see Choosing an Assessment on the Employability Skills Framework website.


QUESTION: Are there resources for adapting the Employability Skills Framework for an Adult Ed program serving students with intellectual disabilities?

RESPONSE: The Employability Skills Framework highlights important skills that can be taught throughout the education and workforce systems. The website does not provide information for specific populations but the content on the site can be adapted for learners of all ages and in all programs. For information on how to use the site for educators, see Resources for Educators.



laurarasmussen's picture

QUESTION: Can you clarify the term "skills gap"? At a training yesterday, I heard that the skills gap was about the lack of trained workers in the technologies of machine tool, welding, etc. In today's presentation, it seemed that the skills gap was defined more as the lack of soft skills, problem solving skills, and lack of communication skills.

RESPONSE: Both employability – or soft – skills and technical skills are important for ensuring a well-prepared workforce. Employers frequently cite employability skills as among the most important for success in the labor market. For background information on the importance of employability skills, check out the Resources section on the Employability Skills Framework website.

From Meredith Liben: I think the term is frequently used both to refer to the shortage of skilled labor and to the general lack of a variety of soft skills needed across industries and workplaces. Certainly there is a lack of trained and skilled workers in many technical areas such as machining and welding. But for way longer than the CCRs even being thought of, employers have been complaining and worried about employees’ lack of soft skills and how much they debilitate workers and impact the bottom line. For example, the following skill deficits are common to all industries: the inability to write up work that was completed accurately, account for time, listen to a customer’s needs and translate them into a work order, deal with a disgruntled customer professionally, and keep up with advances in the field. This is where the CCR Standards and the Employability Skills Framework intersect to address a “skills gap” that is general, and doesn’t relate to a labor shortage in any one field. 

laurarasmussen's picture

QUESTION: How can we balance the need to get many, if not most, of our students immediately into some of the lowest entry level jobs with the time required to address the increased rigor of the CCR literacy standards in the classroom (e.g., 4 levels higher than current skill levels)? These learners need to build a work history and earn income and are likely already employable in a number of entry-level positions. It will take much longer to improve their language and communication skills to the necessary levels and most won’t stick with us for that long.  

RESPONSE: From Meredith Liben: A few things about this. One, I agree with you; there are many jobs that don’t require many communications skills to perform them adequately. Housekeeping jobs and restaurant support positions come to mind, as well as other purely physical work such as landscaping, so long as there is a supervisor close at hand to direct workers. On the other hand, we all know our students’ lives and prospects stand a greater chance of being enhanced if they did gain some of the overlapping employability skills and the language arts represented at each level of the CCR. As well, there are societal costs to not educating all our citizens and residents as well as we can afford to. They are held back from participating in many aspects of society and as functional contributors to our common good as fully as they might otherwise. One other thing to keep in mind: the CCR text complexity demands do not represent a four year increase at every level. That is the approximate gap at the top: between current ASE 2/EFL 6 and what will be called Level E and will represent college and career readiness. There is an increase in complexity expectations at all levels starting with Levels 2/3 (what will be level B), but it is not anywhere near a four year leap at that lower point.    

laurarasmussen's picture

QUESTION: How can the mathematical practice of modeling be effectively integrated into ABE/ASE curricula, especially since the credentialing assessment does not include it as an assessed skill? How could it be linked more directly with a workplace example for entry level work tasks?

RESPONSE: From Kaye Forgione: I think that we as a professional community need to work together to come up with effective ways to include Practice #4 (Model with Mathematics) into both learning and assessment experiences for adult learners.  There is not a lot of work that has been done in this area; the work cited in the webinar that has been done by Achieve looks at the mathematics required in various workplace environments but there is not a concerted focus on how to incorporate mathematical modeling into teaching, learning, and assessment for adult learners.  Since the EFL descriptors that are being revised will address the Standards for Mathematical Practice, assessment developers will be challenged to write assessment items that address mathematical modeling (or at least some aspect(s) of mathematical modeling).  So it is important that we work together to develop lessons and units that incorporate modeling.

The next stage of OCTAE’s work on implementing the CCR Standards in adult education is particularly important since it will push us to develop lessons and units (or modify existing ones) to address the Standards for Mathematical Practice, including modeling.  This provides us with the opportunity to create exemplars and models that can be shared, modified, and implemented in numerous adult education settings—lessons and units that address modeling and the other Standards for Mathematical Practice in the context of level-appropriate content.

I-Fang Cheng's picture

Hello LINCS Community!

In case you missed the Implementing the Employability Skills Framework in the Adult Basic Education Classroom webinar held on December 3, 2014, the webinar archive is now available on the LINCS YouTube Channel. The webinar has been archived in four parts:

  • Part I: Introduction to the Employability Skills Framework
  • Part II: Employability Skills, CCR Standards, and Literacy
  • Part III: Employability Skills, CCR Standards, and Mathematics
  • Part IV: North Carolina's Employability Skills Toolkit

To access the full playlist, visit:

Happy holidays!

The LINCS Community Team

Arlyn Freed's picture

I would very much like to view this webinar, but the link supplied here doesn't work.  Please supply the correct link.  Thank you!

I-Fang Cheng's picture

Hi Arlyn, here is the link to the webinar: 

You can also access all the other LINCS archived webinars on the LINCS YouTube Channel:

Happy new year!

Michael Cruse's picture

In September, the College and Career Readiness and Success Center, the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders, and RTI International hosted a webinar showcasing a new, interactive learning module, Integrating Employability Skills: A Framework for All Educators. Building off of the Employability Skills Framework, the module prepares all educators to integrate employability skills into their everyday instruction.

During this webinar, presenters discussed the value and uses of the employability skills framework.  You can access a recording of the webinar here.

You can also access free downloads of the facilitator's guide, handouts, workbook, and presentation slides from the College and Career Readiness and Success Center (CCRS Center). The modules are designed for facilitators to adopt them as written, or modify the them to reflect state and local context and priorities. If modifications are made, the CCRS Center requests that the following disclaimer be included in the revised materials: These materials were modified in whole or in part with permission from the College and Career Readiness and Success Center.

Mike Cruse
Career Pathways Moderator