ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Edward Tirrell, left, Lizette Argueta, and Juana Perez change the sign from Operation Bootstrap to Pathways, Inc. Adult Education & Training.
By BRIDGET TURCOTTE
LYNN — Operation Bootstrap, a community-based nonprofit organization that provides adult education and support services to residents, is now Pathways, Inc. Adult Education & Training, with an updated strategy to fit the changing needs of the workforce.
“We changed our mission and redesigned our program,” said executive director Edward Tirrell. “In the past, adult education was a place people would go to get help to get a GED and learn English. Now, that’s not sufficient for getting a good paying job. You need more than that. So we’ve redesigned our program.”
The name change stems from the idea that finding pathways to get to a desired career has emerged as the best strategy for addressing a local economic development crisis. Thousands of Lynn area residents are lacking the post-secondary credentials needed for good paying jobs, Tirrell said.
“We know that in Lynn a third of the adults, about 25,000 people, don’t have the skills they need to do post-secondary (education level) jobs, which is anything beyond high school,” Tirrell said. “It’s a real crisis for Lynn. Those families can’t make a living wage.”
The program’s focus has shifted to developing partnerships with local employers and learning what skills they’re looking for to better prepare students. Under a new model of adult education, the organization will try to shorten the process by blending academic instruction with technical training so they can take place simultaneously.
The organization has transformed since its inception in 1976 from a small program providing tutoring and job training services for children involved in the court system. It later became known as an outlet for GED preparation and English language learning.
“We have people who are not literate in their native language, other people who have degrees from other countries but need help with English — we have a wide variety of skill levels,” Tirrell said.
Regular classes run from September through June with morning, afternoon and night classes. Special programming is offered during summer months. A new semester will begin in February with about 75 vacancies, but the waiting list exceeds 1,000 potential students. For a spot on the waiting list, visit pathwayslynn.org.
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.