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Career Pathways

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Welcome to the career pathways page at the Resource Center. Career pathways is an important component of both workforce development and access to postsecondary education. At the state and local levels, local programs, state agencies, government organizations, community colleges, and employers are developing new strategies to fill the need for a better educated or more currently trained workforce. This section will be updated regularly with information on career pathways and postsecondary transitions. In the Links and Resources sections are tools and information that are helpful in facilitating career pathways for our adult learners.

PluggedInVA prepares adult learners for successful transition into high-demand careers and postsecondary education and training. Go to the site to learn more.

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to view archived copies of Progress; Acrobat is a free download that will allow you to view and print PDF documents.

Planning Tools

Bridging Business and Education for the 21st Century Workforce: A Strategic Plan for Virginia’s Career Pathways System
Virginia has released its first Statewide Career Pathways plan that involves a Governor led, multi‐agency approach to improving workforce development, economic development, and education in Virginia. The plan serves as a model for the nation and calls for improved coordination of labor market data, transitions for students at all levels of education, and increasing completion rates. Click on the link to read the full report.
Building Basics
Building Basics is a multi-level curriculum for teaching students that have expressed a need to learn English within the context of the construction trades.
Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the principal fact-finding agency for the Federal Government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics. Click on "Publications" for the most recent Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Adult Career Pathways News: State Spotlight: Virginia’s Commitment to Career Pathways
This article features several career pathways programs operating in Virginia, including PluggedInVA, On Ramp, the Virginia Wizard, and Middle College. The article also features recommendations from the 2008 report, Bridging Business and Education for the 21st Century Workforce to accelerate career pathways activities in the Commonwealth.
College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education
These College and Career Standards have been developed to build stronger links between adult education, postsecondary education, and the world of work. This is a starting point for raising awareness and understanding of the critical skills and knowledge expected for success in colleges, technical training programs, and employment in the 21st century.
Community College Locator
Find a community college in Virginia. 
Elevate Virginia: Skills for Jobs and Business Growth
Based on a collaborative approach to delivering tailored workforce development solutions, Elevate Virginia focuses state and local leadership on regional labor demands and then engages the training capacity of school divisions, community colleges, workforce investment boards (WIBS), the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), one stop career centers, job developers, career coaches, community based organizations and a broad spectrum of supportive services to get Virginia’s citizens prepared for high-skilled, high-wage jobs.
Jobs for the Future
This useful website developed by Jobs for the Future, posts significant research and innovative programs for educational and economic advancement and provides links to other findings.
Making Skills Everyone’s Business: A Call to Transform Adult Learning in the United States (NEW)
Released by OCTAE in February, 2015, and grounded in evidence and informed by effective and emerging practices, this guide offers seven strategies that hold great promise for improving the conditions that create and perpetuate poor literacy, numeracy, and problem solving. These strategies do not distinguish between public and private obligation, nor do they compartmentalize actions at the federal, state, regional, tribal, or local levels. Instead, they are based on the principle of shared responsibility and acknowledge that America’s skills challenge is too large to address by any stakeholder group independently.
MyMnCareers Website
MyMnCareers is a website designed to help low-literacy job seekers and English language learners find career planning information, and explore their career options, set goals and create a plan, and get training.
National Career Readiness Certificate
The National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) is an industry-recognized, portable, evidence-based credential that certifies essential skills needed for workplace success.
New web-based career search tool geared for adult learners
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis unveiled My Next Move, a new, free, and easy-to-use online career search tool. 'By leveraging technology in a user-friendly tool, My Next Move will help those seeking career guidance learn more about work opportunities in fields that are of interest to them and that are likely to have job openings today and well into the future.'
Virginia Employment Commission
Site contains jobseeker services and provides information on Workforce Centers, labor market, and unemployment benefits.
Virginia Workforce Network
Virginia Workforce Network (VWN) features one-stop career centers known as Virginia Workforce Centers, which provide access to workforce, employment, and training services of various programs and partner organizations.

Research and Reports

What Works in Job Training: A Synthesis of the Evidence (NEW)
Published by the Departments of Labor, Commerce, Education, and Health and Human Services, this report summarizes evidence on adult and youth job training strategies and programs to &…determine what information is lacking and identify future research and evaluation that can be undertaken to ensure the Federal programs invest in effective practices.& (.pdf)
21st Century Requires More Skilled Workers
The new workplace requires more from its employees than proficiency in reading, writing, and arithmetic, traditionally the entry-level threshold to the job market.
Career Pathways Report
This 2009 report looks at how career pathways systems work in several states. (.pdf)
From the Center for American Progress
This paper details both the inadequacy of the career navigation assistance now available and why the United States needs a new approach.
The Economic Imperative for More Adults to Complete College
Today, CLASP has released two new resources to demonstrate how several of the proposed cuts targeted under deficit reduction will disproportionately harm nontraditional and underserved students, and set the nation on the wrong course for reducing unemployment and strengthening our economic recovery.
The Employment Retention and Advancement Project: How Effective Are Different Approaches Aiming to Increase Employment Retention and Advancement? Final Impacts for Twelve Models
New England Learner Persistence Project
The New England Literacy Resource Center (NELRC) published the findings of action research done by 18 New England adult education programs that investigated persistence strategies in their varied contexts over the course of a semester.
A Portrait of Low-Income Young Adults in Education
Current and future economic conditions necessitate a greater demand for post-secondary education. Learning beyond high school has become a basic requirement for individual success in the labor market (Institute for Higher Education Policy 2005; Perna 2007) as well as a driver for workforce development (Carnevale and Desrochers 2002) and social mobility (Goldrick-Rab and Shaw 2005). (.pdf)
Reach Higher, America Overcoming Crisis in the U.S. Workforce
Report of the National Commission on Adult Literacy, June 2008 (.pdf)

Training Resources

ONET Resource Center's Career Exploration Tools Free resources for career aptitude, ability, and interest for adult learners. System includes and ability profiler, a computerized and paper-based interest profiler, and a work importance profiler. Registration required to download materials.
Well Fargo sponsors this free site on financial literacy that includes lessons, handouts, links to financial literacy information, and Instructors' Guides. The two sections for Adults and Entrepreneurship are particularly relevant for adult practitioners.
Adult Career Pathways Training and Support Center
These programs are designed to help low-skilled adults succeed in postsecondary education and employment.
Adult Career Pathways: Providing a Second Chance in Public Education
This site features reports, guides, toolkits, online repositories, instructional resources, and links to national associations that support adult literacy and ESL education.
Career Readiness: What does it mean to be "career ready"?
Ensuring students are "college- and career-ready" has become a critical issue as concerns rise about the success of the U.S. education system and, ultimately, the country’s economic competitiveness. The discussion surrounding college readiness is generally limited to academic skills, but actual career readiness requires an even more rigorous blend of academic, technical and employability skills, and the ability to apply these skills in authentic environments. This series outlines these skill requirements and explores how elements of the CTE system can contribute to students' overall career readiness.
The Core Skills Mastery (CSM) Program
The Core Skills Mastery (CSM) Program is web-based instruction and assessment that is free for individuals, schools, and non-profits. The concentration areas are Secondary School, Higher Ed, Workforce, and Business. The Workforce section is appropriate for GED students.
Introducing a new free resource for ESOL learners!
A new free resource is available for your use: THE LIFE SKILLS, COLLEGE, AND CAREER READINESS GUIDE FOR ESOL LEARNERS. The Guide was developed by the Massachusetts Dept. of Adult and Secondary Education, the System for Adult Basic Education Support, and several Mass practitioners, with technical assistance from the Center for Applied Linguistics. (.pdf)
GED Career Bridge to Health Care Curriculum
The guide includes GED as Project Inquiry Activities adapted to health care contexts, current health care vocabulary lists, a variety of career briefs in the health care field, health care-related lesson plans and reading material, guidelines for implementation, and a complete student handbook.  
GED Career Bridge to Hospitality Curriculum
The guide includes GED as Project Inquiry Activities adapted to hospitality contexts, current hospitality industry vocabulary lists, a variety of career briefs in the hospitality field, hospitality-related reading material and lesson plans, guidelines for implementation, and a complete student handbook.
Shifting Gears
The United States faces an increasing gap between the skills possessed by its workforce and those that are necessary to succeed in the 21st century economy. This gap poses a threat to the financial wellbeing of low-skilled American workers and their families and to the nation’s long-term economic growth. Recognizing the threat posed by these economic realities and demographic trends, the Joyce Foundation launched the Shifting Gears initiative to bolster efforts in six Midwest states to help working-age adults who need to expand their skills. Read about the initiative and its evaluation here.
Virginia's CTE Resource Center
The CTE Resource Center supports career and technical and occupational-technical preparation programs by providing resources for curriculum development and program design and implementation in response to the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.


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The VALRC, located at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU School of Education), is funded primarily through the VA Department of Education.