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Adult Career Pathways:
Providing a Second Chance  

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There are millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans whose career opportunities are severely limited because of a lack of postsecondary education. At the same time, new and high-growth industries require workers with technical skills and a solid academic foundation. For many of these industries, an associate degree or industry certificate is the minimum qualification for employment. A flexible adult education model is essential to prepare unemployed, underemployed, and dislocated workers for these demanding careers.

CORD published the book Adult Career Pathways: Providing a Second Chance in Public Education to support the field in the design and development of career pathways programs that can serve the unique needs of lower-skilled adults. The Adult Career Pathways (ACP) model is an extension of career pathways that focuses on adult learners whose educational backgrounds are varied, whose need for support services is considerable, and whose lack of academic preparation for college-level work is often extensive. The ACP model offers a strategy for overcoming workforce barriers by bringing together selected industries, community services, government agencies, and community colleges to identify, enroll, educate, and prepare these adults for high-demand career opportunities. 

ACP programs focus on the implementation of proven strategies for identifying needs, developing curricula, recruiting participants, implementing meaningful work experience, and integrating the personal and academic services needed to transform the unemployed and underemployed into the skilled workforce America needs to compete in the world economy.

CORD offers technical assistance services that enable community colleges and their industry and community partners to: 

  • Identify current and future workforce needs by industry sector.
  • Develop a plan for career pathways implementation that will enhance the region’s economic and workforce development for targeted sectors.
  • Establish programs specifically designed for lower-skilled adults that yield industry credentials and can be replicated in multiple sectors.
  • Support faculty to design contextualized instruction.
  • Develop technical training solutions to enhance the performance of incumbent workers.

For more information about CORD's Career Pathways technical assistance services, read about some of our recent projects or email hcotner@cord.org.



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