Most of the nine programs in a career pathways study are on track to achieving their long-term goals, according to new Abt Associates findings. Abt analyzed the implementation and early impacts of the nine programs as part of the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education Evaluation. For this first, early look at results, eight programs sought to increase educational progress and the ninth focused on increasing earnings. Seven of the nine programs achieved significant impacts on these outcomes. Later reports will look at programs’ effects on participants’ economic outcomes, including employment, earnings and job characteristics.
Career pathways strategies aim to help individuals with only a high school education or less, who face declining job prospects, earn postsecondary credentials and increase earnings. The career pathways framework organizes education and training as a series of manageable steps leading to successively higher credentials and employment opportunities in local, in-demand jobs. Abt’s report describes program implementation and impacts on initial training and career steps roughly 18 months after the random assignment of each program’s participants into treatment and control groups. The cross-program summary also suggests areas for inquiry for follow-up studies of these programs. The impacts are based on samples ranging in size from 500 to 2,400 study participants.
Other Key Findings:
- Programs had high levels of enrollment in education and training. Eight of the nine programs had positive and statistically significant impacts on enrollment in education and training.
- One program increased earnings by more than 50 percent, among the largest impacts seen to date for a workforce development program.
- Recruitment presented challenges for almost all programs. Programs that succeeded in meeting their targets had proactive and ongoing discussions with key referral partners, tested new recruitment methods and tracked referral sources to improve target methods.
- Programs had the flexibility to design and implement basic skills bridge programs using innovative instructional approaches. Occupational training, by contrast, tended to be standard community college or other provider classes.
- Programs provided academic and non-academic advising but rarely mandated it.
- Financial support, when provided, largely focused on support for training.
- Services to connect program participants to employment generally consisted of topical workshops. Few programs provided employment counseling or in-program employment opportunities.
“We Get a Chance to Show Impact”: Program Staff Reflect on Participating in a Rigorous, Multi-site Evaluation