Workforce, Income, and Food Security

Career Pathways

Millions of American adults lack the post-secondary education and occupational training needed to get jobs with good wages and benefits. They face educational barriers such as weak basic academic skills, negative school experiences, a lack of exposure to careers and college role models, the competing demands of work and family, insufficient money to pay for school, and numerous stressors associated with poverty.

The post-secondary education system also includes shortcomings such as ineffective approaches to remedial education, an emphasis on longer programs and general education degrees, fragmented and inadequate academic advising and student support services, complex course selection systems and financial aid rules, and insufficient financial assistance.

A variety of organizations and educational institutions across the country have developed career pathways systems to address these issues. Career pathways combine academic, occupational, and life skills training; financial and supportive services; and well-defined links to employment opportunities.

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Abt Associates leads the field in research and evaluation of career pathways systems, with more than 14 projects for the U.S. government since 2007, including for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Department of Education. Abt uses evidence-based strategies to provide technical assistance to states and local entities as they develop, implement, and evaluate career pathways systems.

Abt’s work in career pathways includes:
  • Experimental and quasi-experimental evaluation approaches, including multi-arm experimental studies;
  • Implementation studies that examine program design and operations, organizational capacity and scale, and partnership experiences to provide lessons for policy and practice
  • Cost-benefit studies;
  • Evidence-based technical assistance;
  • Effective recruitment strategies and scaling of promising programs to facilitate evaluation; and
  • Collaboration with practitioners and policymakers to ensure results are relevant and used in the field.
Senior Abt researchers and technical assistance providers on career pathways research and evaluation include Judy Alamprese, David Fein, Karen Gardiner, Karin Martinson, Howard Rolston, Glen Schneider, Julie Strawn, and Alan Werner.
Follow the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) program on Twitter.

Visit the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) project web site.
Abt's Career Pathways Work
View Abt’s interactive map highlighting places in the United States where we are working to research, implement, and evaluate Career Pathways.
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Training TANF Recipients for Careers in Healthcare: The Experience of the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) Program
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Evaluation Projects

Technical Assistance Projects