Low-income & Unemployed

Education and Stable Employment
For unemployed, underemployed, and low-income people, simply sustaining their families can be time-consuming and frustrating. We help workforce organizations provide low-income workers with access to job training, education for high-growth industries, and college credit for their life and work experience.

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) helps low-income and unemployed people return to school by giving them access to:

  • The Right Way Forward
  • The Right Choices
  • Long-Term Employability


Read stories about programs CAEL has designed and implemented for low-income and unemployed workers.

Targeting Public Infrastructure for Job Growth

As a response to declining employment opportunities in California’s Central Valley area, local workforce investment boards created the Central California Workforce Collaborative (CCWC) to facilitate strategies for job growth through 2020.

Physical infrastructure is very important to employment development in the region, and a major priority for CCWC is in identifying and hiring skilled workers for the initiative’s future projects. CAEL developed a comprehensive, 77-page workforce infrastructure plan focusing on three critical pillars:

Intelligence - Developing the processes and relationships necessary to learn about upcoming public infrastructure projects, as well the jobs and skills that are required for those projects.
Communication - Developing relationships with stakeholders responsible for making decisions about public infrastructure projects, as well as working to communicate effectively with them to improve outcomes for the region.
Training - Identifying current oppor¬tunities for training, and assessing ways that local workforce investment boards and the CCWC as a whole can best use their resources to leverage current training in the Central Valley.

“The regional plan for the public infrastructure sector will provide guidance to the regional WIBs and their partners in economic development and education on how best to invest in the workforce in that sector. The CCWC regional plan has already had an impact for the good.” - Kristy Fairfax, head of KMF Consulting, which is working with the Workforce Investment Board of Tulare County on CCWC services.


Central California Workforce Collaborative
CCWC is a coalition of eight workforce investment boards encompassing 14 counties in the San Joaquin Valley, an area that comprises the southern half of the Central Valley. For the infrastructure plan, CAEL gathered input from representatives and officials of labor, employers, and education from the San Joaquin Valley.



Complete the Degree

CHALLENGE: The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce reports that the U.S. will need 22 million new college degrees by 2018 — but will fall short of that number by at least 3 million postsecondary degrees, associates or better. The U.S. will also need at least 4.7 million new workers with postsecondary certificates.

RESPONSE: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has introduced and endorsed Complete the Degree; a free service, led by local non-profits with a commitment to educational success. With a broad network of partners and participating universities to provide additional support, direction and resources; Complete the Degree ensures a collaborative and thorough strategy in helping adults return to college.

For those who have previously attended college and earned some college credits, Complete the Degree services are free and include the following:

One-on-one planning and personalized guidance

Support in getting credit for previous education and life experience

Guidance with scholarship, grant and loan applications

Assistance with the college application process and re-enrollment

Advice and support accessing financial aid resources

Guidance with the student loan rehabilitation process and default issues

Academic support and skill development

Information about Chicago-area colleges and universities and select programs

Mayor Emanuel Announces Complete the Degree


  • Complete the Degree
    Complete the Degree

    There is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” roadmap to college completion. Complete the Degree advisors will work with you one-on-one, providing a customized plan and consistent support as you take on the challenges of managing adult responsibilities while completing college courses. Whether you have just a handful of college credits or you are only a few classes away from graduating, Complete the Degree will help you get back on track to complete your degree.

OG&E Goes Online to Introduce High-School Students to STEM Careers in Energy

Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) was facing a looming retirement issue. Key positions currently staffed by employees planning for retirement had few qualified candidates preparing to step into those jobs. The situation was aggravated by the fact that many of these important positions were in remote OG&E service areas where it was already a challenge to recruit personnel.

CAEL through its energy industry collaboration, the Energy Providers Coalition for Education (EPCE), created a program to reach into local high schools and attract and prepare students to enter careers in the energy industry. CAEL partnered with two education providers to deliver online courses, Virtual High School (VHS), and the Bismarck State College National Energy Center of Excellence.

OG&E’s Virtual High School Program identifies high school students early in their junior year. After completing a 500-word essay explaining why they wish to participate in the program and taking part in an interview with OG&E representatives, students who are selected enroll in an online math class in the second semester of their junior year. They enroll in two additional online courses in their senior year before completing the program.

In addition to the online courses, students will be invited to an OG&E facility and tour different areas of an energy plant. During the three days the students will spend on site, they will learn about the many parts and functions of a plant and will be given a team assignment to build a mock electric utility system.
When the students complete the high school program and move on to an electric power program in college, OG&E will offer them paid internships with an opportunity to do on-the-job training.  


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  • Bismarck State College
    Bismarck State College

    Bismarck State College has served the energy industry for over 30 years and since 2001 has partnered with CAEL and EPCE to offer online energy programs designed for and by the industry.

  • EPCE (Energy Providers Coalition for Education)
    EPCE (Energy Providers Coalition for Education)

    The Energy Providers Coalition for Education (EPCE) is a group of industry representatives that develops, sponsors, and promotes industry-driven, standardized, quality online learning programs to meet the workforce needs of the energy industry.

  • Oklahoma Gas and Electric
    Oklahoma Gas and Electric

    OG&E serves more than 785,000 retail customers in Oklahoma and western Arkansas, and a number of wholesale customers throughout the region. OG&E, with about 6,600 megawatts of capacity, generates electricity from natural gas, western coal, and wind. OG&E's electric transmission and distribution systems span 30,000 square miles.

STEM Careers through BioOhioWorkforce.org: Helping Ohioans Learn About, and Prepare for, Bioscience Careers

Ohio’s bioscience sector is poised to grow 20% over the next decade – that’s great news for Ohio. Bioscience jobs pay well and are nearly recession proof – that’s great incentive for Ohioans looking for work. However, Ohio bio employers are having difficulty attracting the volume of workers required to meet these growth projections. People simply don’t realize that there are great bioscience jobs for entry-level workers. And, many of the candidates who do apply don’t have the right skills and competencies they need to be successful.

Research and document 300+ bioscience job options available across Ohio’s bioscience sector, then validate with Ohio bioscience employers. Thereafter, build and socialize an online bioscience career exploration tool to:

  • showcase bioscience careers and jobs in a friendly and engaging way, and

  • highlight local bioscience education programs and tuition benefits that people can leverage to secure great bioscience jobs.

Feedback on the tool has been tremendous like this quote from N. Pietras, Executive Director for Northwest Ohio Tech Prep - “The website is awesome. It is impressive and useful for folks looking into bioscience to understand what it is, and how to get involved. Great work.”

Visit www.BioOhioWorkforce.org to view the website.

In March 2010, BioOhio, six Ohio-based community colleges, and CAEL were awarded $5M dollars to train 700 underemployed, dislocated and unemployed workers for entry level positions in bioscience careers. This group calls itself the Ohio Bioworkforce Training Partnership.

The grant was designed to pay for tuition, books and fees for qualified participants and give graduates of the program a hand in finding employment.

Screen Shot of BioOhioWorkforce.org

Visit BioOhioWorkforce.org


June 21, 2012
The Career Lattice

September 08, 2011
Grow Talent with Career Maps

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  • Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
    Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

  • Columbus State Community College
    Columbus State Community College

  • Cuyahoga Community College
    Cuyahoga Community College

  • Ohio Bioworkforce Training Partnership
    Ohio Bioworkforce Training Partnership

  • Owens Community College
    Owens Community College

  • Sinclair Community College - Workforce Development
    Sinclair Community College - Workforce Development

Drawing-out Job Seekers' Hidden Skills

New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) was the west coast’s only automotive assembly plant until it closed in March of 2010. The Alameda County Workforce Investment Board sought effective ways to assist the 4,700 NUMMI workers who lost their jobs when the facility closed.

Since there were no available automotive jobs in the area, it was vital to document the unique skills that workers could transfer into other industries. CAEL conducted focus groups with NUMMI workers to identify their transferable skills and created tools and staff training for career counselors and case managers. These tools and training help counselors and case managers guide the workforce in documenting their capabilities, and ultimately building a portfolio to be used in both searching for new employment and gaining college credit for the knowledge gained while working at the NUMMI plant. As a part of the NUMMI job fair, CAEL also provided Returning to Learning workshops for those thinking of pursuing a credential or college degree.


  • Alameda County Workforce Investment Board
    Alameda County Workforce Investment Board

    The Alameda County Workforce Investment Board (ACWIB) is charged with developing a Workforce Development System. The system offers employment and training, education, and economic development services to job seekers and employers in Alameda County.