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EmployEd: Providing Work Skills & Connections to Employment

by Jason Thorton

“The EmployEd program is not only a valuable resource to adult learners, but it also helps local businesses find the workers they need.”


Meet Hassan, originally from Morocco, who currently works as a waiter in Williamsburg. This survival job, however, is not what he had in mind for his career. Thanks to Literacy for Life and its EmployEd program, Hassan was able to meet with a career coach, assess his interests and skills, and pursue his dream of a future in information technology (IT).

According to the National Skills Coalition (2020), the largest portion of jobs in the U.S. require training beyond high school, but not a four-year degree. However, too few of America’s workers have had access to the skills training necessary to fill those in-demand careers. Literacy for Life’s EmployEd program focuses on filling this “Middle Skills Gap” so that learners can pursue lucrative, in-demand careers, and local businesses can build the workforce they need to grow and thrive. In fact, several learners at Literacy for Life are currently embarking on certifications in dental assisting, certified nursing, commercial driving, tax preparation, and information technology.

Hassan is Literacy for Life’s first learner to pursue IT certification through Paul D. Camp Community College (PDCCC). Literacy for Life’s Career Coach, Frances Falcón, worked with Hassan to enroll into PDCCC’s IT certification program. “IT is consistently an in-demand field,” says Frances. “Hassan will be highly employable, and the sky is the limit, as he can continue to stack credentials or even pursue a degree. I’m so excited to support Hassan and his tutor David. I’m learning more about the IT field and am laying the groundwork to assist more learners along the same path in the future.”

Meiber at her job
Meiber at her job

The tenets of the EmployEd program are simple—work skills + connections = success. The program offers both group and/or one-to- one tutor training to adults seeking to grow their financial literacy skills, career readiness skills, and/or soft skills. Adult participants meet with a Certified Global Career Development Facilitator to develop a customized work readiness plan to enhance their interviewing skills, write a resume and cover letter, apply strategies to their career search, and utilize local resources to meet their own needs. In addition, adult participants can receive individualized and tailored training services and support to help prepare them to take the GED® exam, Virginia Placement Test, and/or enter into a college or industry specific training program.

The EmployEd program is not only a valuable resource to adult learners, but it also helps local businesses find the workers the need. Kendra Robinson, Clinical Director of Williamsburg’s Olde Towne Medical and Dental Center raves about EmployEd participant, Meiber, who was a nurse in her home country of Venezuela. “We work in a rural health center and we have a significant need for trained medical professionals. Meiber came to us from the EmployEd program. She stood out among all the other candidates that we had. It helped that she is bilingual because we have an increasingly growing Hispanic population that is Spanish-speaking. And, she just nailed the interview and her skills have been top-notch since she’s gotten here.”

While EmployEd is just one of the many programs that Literacy for Life offers to the community, it is making a significant impact in the lives of many adult learners—and solving real needs that face local employers. To learn more about EmployEd, take a look at this informational video or contact program coor- dinator, Frances Falcón, at ftfalcon@wm.edu or (757) 221-2422.


National Skills Coalition. (2020, September 9). Skills for an inclusive economic recovery: A call for action, equity, and accountability. https://www.nationalskillscoalition.org/resource/publications/skills-for-an-inclusive-economic-recovery/

Jason ThortonJason Thornton is the Executive Director of Literacy for Life (LFL). He began his adult education career as an English as a second language (ESL) teacher, then program manager, with the Peninsula Regional Education Program. He joined LFL as ESL Program Manager in 2016 and became Executive Director in 2021. Previously, Jason had served as a pastor for ten years. Fun fact: Jason taught English in Sulawesi for two years and learned to speak Indonesian. He appreciates the many challenges faced by adult students learning a new language.