Our nation is in critical need of innovative and cost-effective career pathways systems. More than one-third of American workers lack the skills needed to access and succeed in family-supporting careers, leaving millions of good jobs unfilled. Challenges such as the changing nature of job prerequisites, rapid technological changes, increased global competition, and increased workforce mobility have diminished our country’s ability to prepare our workforce for today’s jobs. Career pathways systems offer an effective strategy for economic advancement by integrating educational instruction, workforce development, and human services with the needs of business and industry.
The U.S. Departments of Education, Health & Human Services, and Labor have jointly released a request for information (RFI) to advance the development of high-quality career pathways systems. The RFI is an opportunity for a broad array of stakeholders to contribute valuable information that will inform policy development and strategic investments at federal, state, tribal, and local levels. The Departments welcome responses from public and private sectors ranging from employers, businesses, education agencies, Workforce Development, Human Services, advocacy organizations, to many others. Responses to the RFI will facilitate comprehensive, multi-system approaches to improving life outcomes for youth and adults.
Jobs for the Future’s three areas of work—preparing for college and career, earning postsecondary credentials, and advancing careers and economic growth—align seamlessly with the Departments’ mission to strengthen career pathways systems. Our Pathways to Prosperity Network enables high school students to transition smoothly from graduation to attaining postsecondary credentials with labor market value through the introduction of career pathways in high school (Read more on how CTE high school programs can respond to the RFI). Accelerating Opportunity, Accelerate TEXAS, and Breaking Through help low-skilled adults enter and succeed in occupational and technical degree programs that lead to family-supporting careers. These initiatives give thousands of students a clear pathway from Adult Basic Education or developmental education—which sometimes never lead to credit-bearing coursework—to quality credentials with strong labor market value. We are also working with the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, which will play a role in analyzing information from the RFI, in efforts to align career and technical education programs of study with state and local career pathways systems serving youth and adults in Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Oregon.
Given the crosscutting nature of career pathways programs, the RFI is a valuable opportunity for public and private stakeholders at the local, state, and national level to weigh in on pathways development. JFF is excited to share the insight gained from our various initiatives and take part in the federal push to strengthen our nation’s economy and we will be posting our official response here on our website. Responses will be accepted until June 9, 2014; don’t miss out on the national conversation!
Submit electronically (at regulations.gov, in MS Word or PDF), or by mail to Alicia Bolton, U.S. Department of Education, 550 12th St. SW, Room 11108, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington DC 20202. Click to read the full RFI.