This thread is connected to the online course, Introduction to Workforce Preparation Activities and Employability Skills, freely available anytime, anywhere in the LINCS Learning Portal.

  • Were there skills which were not explicitly included in the workplace preparation activities discussed? Note that there is no “right” answer here. Consider the alignments and intersections between the different skill sets.
  • Many teachers are probably already integrating some or all of the skills and competencies of workforce preparation activities into classroom instruction. Reflect on your own experiences and the resources you have used to plan your curriculum. Have you used any of the resources presented in this course? Are there others you have used? Which ones seem to be the most effective? How do you know? 

Comments (10)

chris white's picture

I have know about WIOA for the last several years.  This really broke it down for me to understand it a little more.  Also I was able to see adult education instructors need to be well rounded in all faucets of education and employable skills.

Michael Cruse's picture

Hi, Chris -

Thanks for taking the lead and sharing your experience with the course. Your comment on the need for adult educators to be well rounded rings true, but can also be a source of feeling overwhelmed by needing to be informed on 'all facet of education and employability skills'.  This is something that many adult educators, and programs, struggle with under WIOA. 

How are you dealing with this sense of needing to be well rounded across issues of education and employment?


Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

Anita Kerr's picture

The skills included in the workplace prep activities are very comprehensive. One area I feel is difficult for any curriculum or list of skills to adequately cover is the issue of problem-solving. For many employers, this is one of the skills most often cited as needed in today's workforce. But to create authentic problem-solving opportunities that students might encounter in the workplace is tricky in the classroom. These type of prepared activities often include too much guidance, making the solution overly obvious or simple. Or the problem to be solved is framed as "find the one right answer," whereas real life in the workplace will not usually offer this. Students need to see messy, complicated, multi-step solution problems and try to solve those. This is hard to replicate in a classroom!

David J. Rosen's picture

Hello Anita,

You are of course quite right that authentic problem solving is often difficult in a classroom setting. One approach that some workplace education (and workforce development) teachers have used effectively is a project-based or problem-based learning approach, or what some might call a case-study approach, where students are formed into work teams and given an authentic problem from a particular industry or company and, with minimal guidance, asked to come up with one-three possible team solutions to the problem. They may need a lot of information about the context (the company, its products or services, its management structure, the workers, organized labor perspective if relevant, what may have already been tried and not succeeded, etc.). It is possible that when two or more groups are given the same problem, and when they are allowed to share their questions and potential solutions with the other group(s), there can be rich discussion about the proposed solutions and why they may or may not be effective.

I would be interested in others' solutions to how to deal with workplace problem-solving in the classroom.

David J. Rosen

Michael Cruse's picture

Thanks for sharing this challenge with us, Anita.  You're right that we need to "create authentic, problem-solving opportunities that students might encounter in the workplace". As David Rosen already noted, PBL is one solution that has become increasingly popular.  Case studies are another example.  Sometimes the challenge with these is finding good examples that 'fit' your learners, and their current, or aspirational career goals.  

To that end, I'd encourage you to look to your learners for their own examples.  Often they will have dealt with problems in their own work experience, or have impressions based on their interactions with supervisors, customers, etc.  Having learners create part of these PBL scenarios, and/or case studies, gives them a sense of ownership, and validation in their ability to problem solve. You may need to provide a framework, or other supports, to help learners create develop these resources, but the end product will be more meaningful than most "off the shelf" scenarios.  

It would be great to hear from programs that have tried this type of approach.  If anyone has some examples of classroom-generated PBL and/or case studies, please let us know. 


Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

Cyn Hatch's picture

Hi all,

For our Career Readiness program at NVCC, we use the Market Leader series. It provides both PBL and case studies for students to explore (using integrated skills) and also juxtapose against how such issues are addressed in their own organizations and/or countries. 

Cyn Hatch

ESL & TESOL Program Developer and Instructional Designer
Curriculum Design & Implementation
NOVA Workforce
Northern Virginia Community College
Paul Jurmo's picture

There are many great examples of work-related project-based learning and other forms of participatory learning that worker education programs can adapt. (The National Workplace Literacy Program and various more recent career pathway projects were proving grounds for the development of such innovative forms of adult basic education.)  The following documents describe some examples developed in projects in NJ and NY: "TLD Ready" and "TLD Career Planning" (for job seekers in the transportation/logistics/distribution industry); "Job-Seeker's Handbook," "Learn and Work Basic Skills for Job Seekers," and "English at Work" (developed for job seekers who lost their jobs after the 9/11 attacks in NY City); and "Appropriate Technologies for Workforce Learning: A New Approach to Using Educational Technologies for Adult Learning and Workforce Development" (showing how to use PowerPoint and other common computer applications to help learners develop confidence and fluency in English,while also developing computer skills, background knowledge on many topics, and collaboration skills).  I have compiled these and other documents related to participatory approaches to worker education in the "Writings" section of  (Sorry for the shameless self-promotion, but these items were for the most part paid for with your tax dollars!!).     Paul Jurmo     

Michael Cruse's picture

Hi, Paul -

Thanks for sharing your writing on the topic of PBL and career readiness and pathways for adult learners with us.  I was taken by how relevant much of the suggestions are today, from a piece that you wrote in 2011. The piece, Career Pathways for a Productive and Self-Reliant Workforce: A To-Do List for Adult Educators, offers great advice for educators new to pathways, as well as those who may be feeling frustrated by the work of keeping pathways running, and responding to changes in the workforce.  

I especially appreciate the six steps you say that adult educators can take to support career pathways.  I wonder if I could ask you to synthesize these for us, and tell us if you would make any changes, or updates, to these steps, to reflect the needs as you see them in 2018?


Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

Kathy Dawson's picture

Ou state adult education programs are now under one umbrella with our job service centers through WIOA where as before we were collaborating  partners but had our own AE Director. Adult Education concentrated on academics and howthis applied to work so we did do contextualized instruction. Being under one umbrella, however, will take some transition time to learn so we aren't duplicating services or at leaset have a clearer iidea of what our individual roles are so we can provide our students with the best possible instruction, yet utilizing resources outside of adult education-like the job service centers-which have a clearer path to our student's obtaining employment. 

Paul Jurmo's picture

Dear LINCS Colleagues,

As you communicate with employers, labor unions, and other stakeholders about the why’s and how’s of worker education, you might consider the talking points raised in “Basic Skills, A Key to Advancing the Workforce” ( .  This paper was issued on February 2, 2018 by the Open Door Collective (ODC). It makes the case that (1) large numbers of U.S. workers lack the particular basic skills (language, literacy, numeracy, technology, and other fundamental skills) needed to effectively attain, perform, and advance in jobs in emerging workplaces; (2) well-designed and –supported adult basic skills services should be included as a key component of the nation’s workforce development system.

Paul Jurmo (