Adult Education: A Way Out of Poverty
A Chat About Job Training with Charysse Hairston and Spring Abney
One job can make all the difference in lifting a family out of poverty.
At TAP, when we sit down to work with someone who needs a job, we don’t just work to get them any job. We help people land good jobs—ones that pay strong wages with benefits.
But these jobs usually require specific skills and education. That’s why we’ve taken the time to identify jobs in our area that are in demand, pay good wages, and that people can train for in a relatively short amount of time.
Charysse Hairston and Spring Abney both work in our adult education programs and recently spoke with us about how the right job training can be life-changing.
Q: What goals are you are trying to achieve with each person who comes to you for job training?
A: Our main focus is on getting people into better employment. We help them to think about their futures, where they want to see their families, and what’s going to get them there. To make sure we’re aiming for realistic jobs and setting people up for success, we do individual career plans with each person.
Q: Do you change your career track offerings based on market demand?
A: Yes, we keep an eye on the job market, because if a person’s goal is to grow his or her income, we want to make sure there’s a position for them at the end of the training.
Q: What kinds of supports do you provide to help make it possible for people to train? How important are these supports to their success?
A: Often the barrier to training is child care. One of our grants allows us to provide childcare assistance to many of our adult education students, and the majority of the people we work with could not do any type of training or get a better career without this support.
Another unique thing we provide is transportation support in the form of bus passes or gas cards.
Q: Can you talk about the quality of the jobs that people can reach through these programs, compared to their other employment options?
A: Right now we are training people for middle-skill careers in healthcare, IT, or manufacturing. We want people to earn more than $11 an hour, and right now most people completing our program are able to earn in the $13 – $16 range. You can go work at some retail stores or fast food without any experience, and you will be able to make minimum wage or even up to $10 an hour. But to move up in income you have to have some type of training.
Q: When somebody supports these adult education programs, what kind of impact are they making on our community?
A: Our supporters are helping to change the mentality and lives of the people we serve. A lot of people, after training with us, decide they will keep moving forward, and they go back to school to become a registered nurse or earn an advanced manufacturing certification. Supporting TAP’s training programs helps get people beyond the job mindset and into a career mindset of being passionate about what they are doing.