Profiles a career pathways program in Chicago that connects low-skilled Latinos to health careers and illustrates how the program fits into the broader career pathways framework defined by the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education experimental design study.

“The Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) study is using an experimental design to assess the effectiveness of nine career pathways programs across the country” (p.1).

“This profile provides an overview of one career pathways program, Carreras en Salud (Carreras), designed and operated by Instituto del Progreso Latino (Instituto), a nonprofit organization located in Chicago, Illinois. Carreras was established to help low-skilled Latinos gain the necessary skills to move into Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) positions.…The program also provides an array of services to support students while they attend classes, including academic advising; assistance with tuition, child care, and transportation; support to address nonacademic issues; and assistance in finding employment when they complete the program.

This profile first explains…the career pathways framework used in the PACE evaluation, which provides a common approach for explaining and assessing career pathways programs. It then describes Instituto’s program and how it fits within the career pathways framework” (p.2).

“The…PACE…evaluation, a 10-year effort funded by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families…is a random assignment evaluation of nine…career pathways programs [including Carreras] that aim to improve employment and self-sufficiency outcomes for low-income, low-skilled individuals….

PACE…launched in…2007 and began with intensive outreach to solicit the views of policy makers, program operators, researchers, and advocates on promising program areas to test, resulting in a focus on the career pathways approach. The evaluation team then recruited…career pathways programs.…Random assignment began in November 2011 and…conclude[d] in September 2014....

The evaluation team will produce a series of reports including: program profiles [such as this one] for each of the PACE partner sites, site-specific implementation reports documenting the operation of the program, and site-specific impact reports examining the effect of the program on education, employment, and other related outcomes, including a cost-benefit analysis” (p.12).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The profile first defines the PACE career pathways framework and explains its four core elements and five basic steps. “The career pathways approach presupposes that postsecondary education and training should be organized as a series of manageable steps leading to successively better credentials and employment opportunities in growing occupations. Each step is designed to prepare participants for the next level of employment and education and also provide a credential with labor market value. To effectively engage, retain, and facilitate learning, programs integrate four core elements: (1) comprehensive assessment, (2) promising approaches to basic and occupational skills, (3) academic and nonacademic supports, and (4) strategies for connecting participants to employers. Individual programs vary in terms of the emphasis placed on each core component, although all are comprehensive in nature in order to address the learning and life challenges facing adult participants” (p.2). The authors define the five career pathways steps: Basic Bridge Programs and Sectoral Bridge Programs (steps I and II), which are “‘on ramp’ programs designed to prepare low-skilled participants for college-level training and lower-skilled jobs” (p. 2); certificate programs (steps III and IV) that “provide college-level training for ‘middle skills’ employment” (p.2-3); and, (step V), “interventions to promote completion of a bachelor’s degree and more advanced credentials” (p.3). Next, the authors explain how the Instituto program fits into the framework. “Carreras en Salud brings together several key components of the career pathways framework. First, it offers training as a series of well-articulated steps for individuals to increase their basic skill levels and receive certification in the nursing field. The program serves Latinos with basic skills levels ranging from fourth through twelfth grade. The program entry point depends on skill level. Second, the program provides a range of support services, including academic advising, assistance with nonacademic issues, and tuition assistance. Finally, the program provides employment assistance through a job readiness class and employment specialists who maintain relationships with employers and connect students to job openings” (p.3). The profile concludes by describing what services participants might have accessed in the absence of the program. (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)