Vermont’s adult learning centers provide critical skills for all

Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 5:07 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) - Adults in Vermont can access free education to help them reach their goals. As part of national Adult Education and Literacy Week, local advocates are spotlighting the work of 17 learning centers across the state that provide help to around 1,800 adults each year.

Karla Perez is from Honduras and began learning English at Central Vermont Adult Basic Education in Barre back in 2019.

“To get a job, you know, so important and obviously the communication with other people around here. Because just English here... you have to learn, you have to,” Perez said.

She says the language skills she picked up at CVABE made it possible for her to get a job as a custodian at nearby U-32 Middle and High School.

Other students say it can be difficult to take that first step as an adult, admitting that you need more education. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. Sometimes all you need is just a little bit of guidance and a little bit of push and a little bit of help,” said Renee Landry, who after 20 years working in a warehouse, decided she needed to learn new skills to advance her career. “I came here to update my digital skills to learn the online world and to modernize my resume.”

Those in the program say they’re happy that free education is available. “They help a lot, Perez said. “I’m so so thankful for them.”

“We specialize in helping people take that next step and move into the workforce,” said Brian Kravitz, CVABE’s director, who oversees locations in Barre, Montpelier, Waterbury, Randolph, and Morrisville. In all, four main offices operate 17 centers around the state.

“In Vermont, it’s estimated that there are about 31,000 out-of-school adults aged 18 and over without a high school credential. Most of them cannot access any of those programs until they get that high school credential, and we are the first step,” Kravitz said.

A working group in the Legislature spent the summer researching how to better serve adults who need education. Emilie Krasnow, D-Chittenden, says it’s a critical service that the state should continue to fund. “Seeing where there are still gaps that we can fill, and how we can continue to sustainably fund these programs moving forward because we need them and we want them and we want them to thrive and be successful,” she said.