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Adult illiteracy as a workforce barrier: 3 in 10 Buffalo adults are "functionally illiterate"

Posted at 6:31 PM, Oct 22, 2018

When it comes to adult literacy in Buffalo, the city finds itself a little bit behind the rest of the country. Around 30 percent of adults qualify as "functionally illiterate" in Buffalo, which is 10 percent higher than the national average, according to Literacy New York Buffalo Niagara.

"If they're coming in at a third grade reading level, it will often take them many years of preparation to get to the point where they can sit to take the TASC exam, which is how they get their high school equivalency diploma in New York State," Amy Mazur, operations director for Literacy New York Buffalo Niagara, explained.

The organization works to help adults in Western New York improve their reading and writing skills. It sees first hand just how detrimental this problem is for people looking to get into the workforce.

"One of the main goals that we see out of individuals is being able to get a job or get a better job in the future or in some cases even enter into a training program to get a better job," Mazur said.

An adult qualifies as "functionally illiterate" by being able to read and write at a fifth grade level or worse. A lack of those very basic skills can make it difficult for people to even apply for jobs, let alone performing expected tasks at work.

"I think that people assume that those who don't have jobs, they have good skills they just don't have the job," Mazur said. "But, what we see statistically is so many people don't even have the basic skills to even be able to apply for that job."

Literacy New York Buffalo Niagara is hosting its annual fundraiser Wednesday, Oct 24 at Resurgence Brewing Company. The event runs from 6-8:30 p.m. at 1250 Niagara St. and tickets are $50 pre-sale or $60 at the door.

For more information about the event, click here.

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