The Fort Smith Adult Education Center is located in Fort Smith, Arkansas, a mid-sized manufacturing city in western Arkansas. As layoffs continue to affect our region, more adults are coming to our center not only to get a GED credential or review basic academic skills, but to learn how to find a new job using technology. Last year our program served almost 3000 adults, and only 915 were employed. Many of the adults we serve had worked in manufacturing for 20+ years before being laid off. These adults have discovered that finding a new job now requires them to use computers to both seek out and apply for jobs.
In order to meet this demand, our center started offering two new classes: Digital Literacy and Technology for Career Success. Our Digital Literacy class teaches adults computer basics, from turning on a computer to managing folders to accessing the internet and creating email accounts. Many of our adult students do not own computers at home, and have found this introductory course to be essential. The course is taught over 12 hours, meeting twice a week for four weeks.
Once they have the basics, adults can then take our 12 hour Technology for Career Success. This course helps the students create resumes, write cover letters, fill out online job applications, search of jobs, and prepare for job interviews. When taught in conjunction with our Career Readiness Certificate course and WAGE certificate courses, students leave us with the resumes, soft skills, technology, academic and interview skills needed to find a better job or move on to post-secondary training. Teachers work together to bring in Human Resource professionals from area businesses to conduct mock interviews, review resumes, and give the students feedback.