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Descriptive and Analytical Career Pathways Project


  • Career pathways strategies’ rapid growth requires more evidence about effectiveness.
  • Abt is conducting three studies to expand the field’s knowledge.
  • Results from the studies are expected in 2021.
The Challenge

Career pathways strategies offer connected education and training steps between occupations in an industry sector, combined with support services. The goal is to enable individuals to enter and exit training within a pathway at various levels and to advance over time to higher skills, recognized credentials, and higher paying jobs. The rapid rise of career pathways strategies, including an emphasis on them in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), creates an urgent need for more evidence on this approach.

The Approach

The Department of Labor hired Abt to expand the field’s knowledge about career pathways systems and programs. Abt is following up our recent knowledge synthesis and evaluation design work with new studies in three areas to: (1) explore career trajectories and occupational transitions for workers in the general labor market; (2) conduct a meta-analysis of existing study data to examine overall, component, and subgroup impact; and (3) use machine learning to uncover patterns in existing information on career pathways initiatives.

The Results

Results from the studies are expected in 2021.