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APLU Releases Resources to Support Career & Workforce Development in Rural Areas

Washington, DC – Aiming to expand opportunity, boost employment, and increase productivity in rural areas, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development hosted by Purdue University today released a report and curriculum aimed at helping public and land-grant universities’ programs advance workforce development and strengthen career pathways for low-income workers and learners.

“We know too many low-income individuals in rural areas are not reaching their full potential due to insufficient access to relevant skills development,” said Bernie Burrola, APLU’s Vice President for International, Community and Economic Engagement. “As trusted members of their communities, Cooperative Extension professionals are a powerful force for driving progress in a wide array of areas. The resources we’re releasing today will give these professionals new tools to help low-income individuals develop their talents while addressing workforce challenges in rural areas.”

The report includes a companion curriculum, Future Opportunities for Rural Workforce and Rural
Development (FORWARD)
, informed by pilot projects in Arkansas, Indiana, and Utah. The curriculum is designed to build capacity for Cooperative Extension to: serve as workforce development coaches and facilitators in rural communities, identify and address the needs of low-income workers and employers in rural communities, develop career pathways that reduce poverty and alleviate worker shortages, and leverage the Cooperative Extension network to scale improvements in rural community capacity to address workforce needs. The curriculum also provides guidance on tailoring support to local contexts and needs.

Data show rural areas are more likely to face an array of interrelated workforce challenges, including a declining and/or aging population, lower workforce participation rates, and higher rates of poverty. Lower educational attainment is related to all these trends, and the resources released today are designed to give Cooperative Extension professionals the tools to help more individuals reach their full potential in the workforce.

Ascendium Education Group supported the FORWARD project.

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