BTC BRIEF: From Basic Skills to Middle-Class Jobs - Bridge Programs Hold Promise for North Carolina's Workforce and Economy

By Alexandra Forter Sirota
Director of the NC Budget & Tax Center
November 2011


  • Nearly half a million North Carolinians aged 25 to 64 do not have high school diplomas or GEDs. For these working-age adults, unemployment, underemployment and lower lifetime earnings are more likely than for those with higher levels of educational attainment.
  • In order to improve the prospects for workers with low levels of formal education, the 2011 state budget authorized community colleges to use up to 20 percent of their state literacy funds to support Basic Skills Plus programs, which provide adult basic education and occupational or employability training to such workers in order to accelerate the transition to employment.
  • Research has found that bridge programs, like North Carolina's Basic Skills Plus programs, are most effective when they provide contextualized learning opportunities, provide a pathway to further post‐secondary training, and are complemented by student support services.
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