Career Pathways: What We Know So Far and Options for Closing Gaps in Knowledge
Career pathways strategies offer articulated education and training steps between occupations in an industry sector, combined with support services, to enable individuals to enter and exit at various levels and to advance over time to higher skills, recognized credentials, and better jobs with higher pay. The rapid rise of career pathways strategies in the U.S., including an emphasis on them in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, creates a need for more evidence on this approach.
Although substantial research is in progress, more is needed to enhance the field’s knowledge about career pathways strategies, how best to configure them, and their long-term effects.
To inform future research on career pathways approaches, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Chief Evaluation Office awarded Abt Associates the Career Pathways Design Study to understand the state of the field and develop evaluation design options. Abt scanned career pathways studies and initiatives implemented as of February 2017 and consulted with 44 experts, then created a menu of evaluation design options to answer key research questions.
The project produced a summary brief and four reports:
- The Career Pathways Design Study Findings in Brief summarizes and provides highlights from all four of the project’s reports
- The Career Pathways Research and Evaluation Synthesis examined 52 studies of career pathways approaches, and an accompanying matrix describes major career pathways research and evaluation studies
- The Career Pathways Implementation Synthesis reviewed 128 existing career pathways initiatives, and an accompanying matrix describes major initiatives (whether or not they included an evaluation)
- The Career Pathways in Early Care and Education (ECE) report examined the potential for career pathways approaches in early care and education
- The Evaluation Design Options explored various research design options for evaluating career pathways approaches.