Five years ago, JFF and the Harvard Graduate School of Education launched the Pathways to Prosperity Network, a collaboration of states and regions developing college and career pathways for all students. This national effort has grown significantly and now includes 14 states and regions. Since the Network's inception, state and regional leaders have made impressive progress in aligning K-12, postsecondary education, and the workforce. JFF's Nancy Hoffman and Bob Schwartz chronicle the Network's development––which they co-founded––in a new book, Learning for Careers: The Pathways to Prosperity Network (Harvard Education Press, 2017).
Learning for Careers provides a comprehensive account of the Pathways to Prosperity Network. It takes as its starting point the influential 2011 Pathways to Prosperity report, which challenged the prevailing idea that the core mission of high schools was to prepare all students for college. In response, the Network was founded in 2012 to promote cooperative arrangements between educational and business institutions in order to fashion pathways for young people to acquire twenty-first-century skills and achieve professional success.
This book traces the evolution of the Network over the past five years, focusing on the efforts of a diverse set of states and regions to build systems that span high school and the first two years of postsecondary education. States such as Delaware and Tennessee have been highly effective in establishing systems designed to equip students with credentials valued in the contemporary labor market. At the same time, the authors acknowledge the technical, political, and cultural challenges in redesigning career-focused education to produce satisfactory outcomes for young people throughout the country.
Learning for Careers offers a way forward for the millions of young people and employers that face a rapidly evolving and ever more competitive globalized workplace. This book will be essential reading for all who have a stake in educational and economic opportunity in the United States.
Praise for Learning for Careers
"Hoffman and Schwartz provide a thorough and thoughtful summary of how states are taking on the challenge of ensuring more students are career-ready–not just college-ready–and specifically prepared for high-growth and high-demand jobs."
— Candice McQueen, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Education
"This experience-packed, on-point book will sharpen our oft fumbling effort to make real the ‘career’ part of ‘college- and career-ready’ and furnish many more young Americans with a rigorous, respectable, and lucrative alternative to the ‘four-year degree for all’ goal."
— Chester E. Finn, Jr., distinguished senior fellow and president emeritus, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
"Pathways to Prosperity is giving thousands of Delaware young people the opportunity to learn valuable skills that will serve them well in the workplace. The best part is seeing how engaged these young people are as they think about their future."
— Jack Markell, governor of Delaware (2009–2017)
"Nancy Hoffman and Bob Schwartz's work constitutes the true definition of education reform in our country. They address one of America's fundamental challenges: How do we make public education much more relevant to the needs of the changing modern workforce? Their work is essential reading for everyone interested in how to smartly combine rigorous academics with real-world application."
— Ursula Renold, head of research division education systems, Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich
"The 1990 report of the Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce strongly recommended that the United States greatly raise academic standards for all students and create a world-class work-based vocational education system. Instead, the United States raised standards for some while wrecking the vocational education system for many. This book describes what the country needs to do to get back on track."
— Marc Tucker, president, National Center on Education and the Economy
"What makes Learning for Careers special is that it offers a proven and promising approach to help young people launch into the labor-market with in-demand skills and credentials, and better prepare them for pursuing postsecondary degrees. The book is a story of how career and technical education can be elevated from a last resort to a first choice for young people."
— Andreas Schleicher, Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General, and Director for Education and Skills, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
About the Authors
Nancy Hoffman is a senior advisor at JFF and co-founder of the Pathways to Prosperity Network. Bob Schwartz is a senior fellow at JFF with a primary affiliation with the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is co-founder of the Pathways to Prosperity Network.