Examines career pathways as a model for meeting the needs of the labor market, as well as the individual worker, and provides recommendations for developing more coordinated career pathways systems.

“The United States spends over $400 billion a year on post-secondary education. By most measures, the country is not getting a good return on this investment. Too many U.S. students emerge from our secondary and post-secondary educational institutions without the knowledge, skills, or credentials necessary to meet the challenges of the 21st century’s increasingly global and technology-based jobs market.

As the world’s labor markets evolve, so do the demands on its educational systems. This paper describes the nature of the challenges we are facing and highlights current innovations and models—around the world and in the U.S.— that suggest how a new system of well-designed career pathways could address more effectively the demand-side needs of employers and the supply-side needs of individual workers. At the core of such a system are portable and stackable credentials that enable students of all ages to build careers with family-sustaining, middle class incomes” (p.2).

(Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

“There is a growing recognition of the problem and a beginning consensus on the solution set, but to move in the direction of a stackable, portable credential approach, all stakeholders in all areas of education, government and business with an interest in education, labor, and training need to get together and agree upon the most effective methods and the responsibilities each area will have in making such a system work.” (p.25). • “There must be, as the authors of Enterprising Pathways write, ‘increased coordination among secondary and post-secondary institutions and the workforce to ensure smooth transitions for students between systems and to improve successful post-secondary completion and employment’” (p.26). • “Collaboration between education and the business world should lead to better agreement on what’s needed and what can be done” (p.26). • “Education needs to acknowledge the importance of teaching – and certifying – soft skills like the ‘7 Cs’ of working in the 21st century: creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, computing, career self-reliance and cross-cultural understanding. Employers must agree that portable, stackable credentials will have real labor market value and that higher-level credentials will lead to advancement and raises” (p.26). • “We need a comprehensive review of federal education policies across all the key pieces of federal legislation, including ESEA, Carl Perkins, and WIA, to develop a shared vision and policies that support industry-recognized portable, stackable credentials” (p.26-27). • “We need to ask and address key questions about what right incentives, policies, and financing vehicles will support a more fluid, portable system where it matters less where you obtain credentials, but more their value” (p.27). (Abstractor: Author)