This page is optimized for a taller screen. Please rotate your device or increase the size of your browser window.

Healthcare Career Pathways Program Increases Credential Receipt for Low-Income Latinos in Chicago

Rockville, Md.--Healthcare is among one of the fastest growing employment sectors in the nation. But almost all jobs in healthcare require some level of postsecondary education or training, and many low-income, low-skilled adults face considerable barriers to entry-level jobs.

As part of the Administration for Children and Families’ Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) study, Abt Associates evaluated a promising program in Chicago that increased its participants’ hours in basic skills instruction and occupational training and helped them earn more credentials.  

Among several key findings, the program increased the total hours of occupational training and increased employment in the healthcare field.

A Promising Career Pathway Program:  Chicago’s Carreras en Salud

Abt researchers evaluated the Carreras en Salud program, operated by the nonprofit organization Instituto del Progreso Latino. The program follows a career pathways model by providing well-articulated training and employment steps that are tailored to locally in-demand jobs. This training is combined with a range of supports to help students succeed.

Policymakers and practitioners have shown great interest in the career pathways approach but, to date, limited rigorous research is available on its effects on participants’ educational and economic outcomes. 

Our evaluation of the program was based on the random assignment of 800 applicants who we followed for 18 months before comparing education and employment outcomes between a treatment group that could participate in Carreras en Salud and a control group that could not.

Key findings include:

  • Carreras en Salud increased the total hours of occupational training and basic skills instruction received over an 18-month period. Treatment group members completed an average of 402 hours of training whereas control group members completed 223 hours, an 80 percent increase. For reference, typical courses at most U.S. colleges meet a total of 45 hours per course indicating that Carreras en Salud participants completed about four courses more than control group members.
  • The treatment group earned more credentials than the control group, 37 percent compared to 18 percent (an 18-percentage point impact).
  • The treatment group also was more likely than the control group to receive career counseling, help arranging supports, and job search assistance.
  • Carreras en Salud increased employment in the healthcare field and reduced the incidence of financial hardship—defined as either missing a rent or mortgage payment or generally not having enough money left at the end of the month to make ends meet.

“This evaluation builds evidence around the effects of the career pathways approach and shows that non-profit organizations can play an important role in facilitating educational success,” said Karen Gardiner, Abt Principal Associate and PACE Project Director.

To learn more, read the report here. Future reports that follow participants for a longer follow-up period will examine whether these effects translate into gains in employment and earnings. Additional details on a June 28th briefing on our study findings and the work of Instituto del Progreso Latino are available at:




About Abt Associates

Abt Associates is an engine for social impact, dedicated to moving people from vulnerability to security.  Harnessing the power of data and our experts’ grounded insights, we provide research, consulting and technical services globally in the areas of health, environmental and social policy, technology and international development.


About Instituto del Progreso Latino

Instituto del Progreso Latino has served the immigrant and Latino communities on Chicago’s South West Side since 1977. Instituto’s mission is to contribute to the fullest development of immigrants and their families through education, training, and employment that fosters full participation in the changing US society while preserving cultural identity and dignity. Instituto serves families through a comprehensive suite of services including workforce development, financial counseling, job placement services, basic adult education, citizenship services, youth education, and more.


Amy Dunaway




Focus Areas
North America

Real World Solutions

Work With Us
Ready to change people's lives? We want to hear from you.
We do more than solve the challenges our clients have today. We collaborate to solve the challenges of tomorrow.