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Editorial - Adult Basic Education: A tool for development
Marshall Independent
August 17, 2006
Used by permission

Pat Thomas is pretty firm about this:
”The state’s Adult Basic Education centers located at regional sites around Minnesota, including Marshall can and must be key players in shaping regional economic development.”

They can help train workers, they can help new immigrants adjust to new cultures and towns, they can help older workers looking for new jobs learn computer skills, they can hook up potential workers with employers starving for quality employees. In short, by boosting literacy, they can improve the quality of local workforces.

Thomas, the director of Marshall’s ABE center, is so passionate about her belief in ABE’s power that she pitched the idea of economic development impact to a statewide ABE conference last week near St. Cloud.

She essentially told other ABE members that they’ve reached a pivotal moment in their history, and need to jump forward:  They can be a linchpin in economic development in areas that really need the leadership and services. They need to keep doing what they are doing, but tailor it a little more, and give it more oomph make it more noticeable so the community turns to it as a resource.

Last week’s conference included talks by workforce experts and those who’ve got experience helping immigrants integrate into job markets and do it well.

If you visit the ABE office at the courthouse in Marshall, you’ll see staff and clients busily at work some learning English, some hammering away on computer skills, some learning to apply for jobs via computer the way many bigger companies now require.

This week, Thomas also pointed out to us the local office’s Web site the most-used ABE Web site in the state, she said, and one that is a terrific tool for not only job-seekers, but those looking to learn more about basic computer programs, use of the Internet and other forms of technology.

It¹s quite a site, and worth checking out.  There are simple tutorials about many common programs, links that answer dozens of basic technology questions or provide dozens of tips. All the sorts of things beginning computer users would find useful.

Here is the internet address for it: www.marshalladulteducation.org. Once the home page comes up, click the Technology Link on the left of the screen to find all sorts of help.

Thomas and her agency do a lot of good things for lower-income, struggling and new-immigrant residents of this community and deserve more recognition than they usually receive. Adult Basic Education should also be getting recognized from employers in town, because ABE often does the hard work of getting workers ready for the job.

That’s pretty valuable stuff in an area with an almost negative unemployment rate and where there’s a premium on decently prepared workers.

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Lyon County Government Center  •  607 W. Main St.  •  Marshall, MN 56258  •  (507) 537-7046

E-Mail:Marshall Adult Education

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