Improving Workforce Readiness Skills Among Community College Adult Learners Through New Technologies:

Lessons From Two Schools


  • Sara Haviland Educational Testing Service (ETS)
  • Steven Robbins, Ph.D. Educational Testing Service (ETS)
  • Vinetha Belur, Ph.D. Educational Testing Service (ETS)
  • Gernissia Cherfrere, M.Ed. Educational Testing Service (ETS)
  • David Klieger, J.D., Ph.D. Educational Testing Service (ETS)



workforce development, adult learners, career and technical education, critical skill development, social and behavioral skills


Employers report struggles to find work-ready candidates who possess a desired combination of job-specific technical, general math and reading, and social and behavioral skills. Community colleges are ideally situated to address these shortages, delivering a trained local labor force and often collaborating directly with employers and regional development boards to ensure the employability of their students and the economic vitality of their regions. One tactic to address these shortages is to introduce trainings geared directly toward soft and basic skill development. This paper presents case studies of two schools that use technology-enhanced trainings to incorporate work-readiness skill trainings in career technical education programs that are (1) flexible and learner-centric due to technology-enhanced delivery, and (2) use evidence-based assessment and intervention strategies to promote soft skill and literacy expectations. The trainings were provided by a non-profit education research and measurement company, which served as developer and research partner for the community colleges. Results demonstrate adult learner satisfaction and commitment with these blended learning and mobile technology solutions. Factors that facilitate training success, which include securing student buy-in and developing collaborative partnerships, are discussed.

Author Biographies

Sara Haviland, Educational Testing Service (ETS)

Sara Haviland is a Research Scientist at ETS. She is an expert in CTE and Community College systems, has served as lead third-party evaluator on several TAACCCT funded projects, and served as senior research scientist at the Rutgers’s Center for Education and Employment. She received her doctorate in sociology from the University of North Carolina with expertise in mixed method and qualitative research.

Steven Robbins, Ph.D., Educational Testing Service (ETS)

Steven Robbins is a Principal Research Scientist in ETS’s Academic to Career Research Center. Prior to joining ETS, Robbins was Vice President for Research at ACT. He also is a former professor and chair of the Psychology Department at Virginia Commonwealth University. His research promotes understanding evidence-based assessment and intervention practices that help underserved learner’s bridge education and work.

Vinetha Belur, Ph.D., Educational Testing Service (ETS)

Vinetha Belur is a Research Project Manager in the Research and Development division at Educational Testing Service in Princeton, NJ. She received a Ph.D. degree in psychology in 2010 and a M.A. degree in psychology in 2006 from Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Gernissia Cherfrere, M.Ed., Educational Testing Service (ETS)

Gernissia Cherfrere, M.Ed. is a Research Associate at ETS. She is currently an Urban Education doctoral student at Temple University, with a master's degree in Education Policy from the University of Pennsylvania.

David Klieger, J.D., Ph.D., Educational Testing Service (ETS)

David Klieger is a Senior Research Scientist at ETS. His work focuses on academic and vocational training, learning, and selection issues, including research on skill acquisition in adult education. He received his Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University of Minnesota. He earned a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, where he served as Articles Editor for the Comparative Labor Law Journal.


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