Adult Career Pathways:
Providing a Second Chance
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 approved technical 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.
In 2007, CORD published the book Adult Career Pathways: Providing a Second Chance in Public Education. In 2011, an updated and expanded 2nd edition was published. 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. The program specifically targets unemployed, underemployed, and dislocated workers and is ideal for serving individuals with little or no college, returning veterans, foreign-born U.S. residents, and ex-offenders.
Adult Career Pathways programs are designed to address and remove barriers to participation and success. Essential program components include:
- An intensive prep stage designed to prepare participants for job entry and college study
- Industry-focused curriculum that prepares participants for employment and career advancement in designated industries
- A multi-step career ladder that begins with basic job-entry skills and concludes with advanced technical skills
- Partnerships with community and government agencies that can marshal the resources necessary for participants to overcome personal issues that might impede study and/or employment
- Part-time employment in appropriate positions upon completion of the prep stage
- Personal and academic support services essential to student success
Adult Career Pathways 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.