Propelling College and Career Success: The Role of Strategic Partnerships in Scaling Delaware…

Author(s): Rothman, Robert

Organizational Author(s): Jobs for the Future (JFF)

Funding Source: Funding source not identified

Resource Availability: Publicly available

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Presents a case study of Delaware Pathways, an initiative that unites the education system, businesses, local government, and community organizations in a partnership to provide career pathways and work-based learning to youth in order to improve employment outcomes and fill the state’s middle-skills gap.


“This case study is part of a…series [from] the Pathways to Prosperity Network….The series…spotlight[s] state and regional members who have made impressive progress toward building high-quality college and career pathways for all students” (p.i).

“As with most places, Delaware’s economy has undergone significant changes over the past few decades. These transformations have had profound effects on the job market, creating a need for individuals with higher levels of skills than ever before….The result of these and other changes in the state’s economy is a skills gap….[W]hile employers are looking for people to fill the higher-skilled jobs—particularly the so-called ‘middle-skill’ jobs that require some postsecondary training but not a four-year degree—they are finding a shortage of candidates” (p.2).

“Delaware Pathways is intended to address talent supply in the state by providing young people with opportunities to develop the competencies needed for middle-skill jobs and by providing employers with ways to recruit and train a steady supply of needed workers. The goal is to create true pathways from school to career….One of the first steps…was creating a strategic plan” (p.4).

“A draft of the plan was released in February 2016, at the second annual Delaware Pathways convening. The final plan laid out five broad areas of work:

  • Build a comprehensive system of career preparation that aligns with the state and regional economies” (p.5).
  • “Scale and sustain meaningful work-based learning experiences for students in grades 7-14” (p.5).
  • “Integrate education and workforce development efforts and data systems” (p.5).
  • “Coordinate financial support for Delaware Pathways” (p.5).
  • “Engage employers, educators, and service providers to support Delaware Pathways” (p.5)

“[The] Pathways to Prosperity initiative seeks to ensure that many more young people complete high school and attain postsecondary credentials with value in the labor market. The Pathways to Prosperity Network is a collaboration….Each state and regional member is engaging cross-sector stakeholders in building a system of grades 9-14+ career pathways, combining high school and community college, that launches young people into initial careers while leaving open the prospect of further education” (p.ii).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Full publication title: Propelling College and Career Success: The Role of Strategic Partnerships in Scaling Delaware Pathways

Major Findings & Recommendations

Key tenets of Delaware Pathways include:
“System of Career Pathways
At the heart of the Pathways initiative is the pathways themselves….[T]he pathways are intended to link high school, postsecondary education, and employers into a seamless system that enables young people to develop the skills they need, gain valuable experience, and move into productive careers” (p.7).

“Work-Based Learning Experiences
A key element of the Pathways initiative is work-based learning. By providing students with opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills in actual work sites, students gain the skills and experience they need to begin their careers” (p.12).

The success of the initiative is dependent on:
“Workforce and Data Systems…
[The initiative] will be most effective if it is integrated into the state’s system for workforce development….[The] state’s Departments of Labor and Education worked to classify occupations into high-skill, middles-kill, and low-skill areas. The agencies could then use the Department of Labor’s economic projections to determine which of the high- and middle-skill occupations were growing and at what rate. That enabled them to develop a more sophisticated investment strategy…and to appropriate funds to develop new pathways” (p.15).

Coordinated Financial Support
“When the Pathways leaders developed their strategic plan in 2016, they created a budget that allocated projected spending and resources according to the five elements in the plan. That way, the partners would understand exactly what they needed for each element and seek funding to fill targeted gaps” (p.17).

“Community Engagement
Delaware Pathways leaders knew from the outset that they would need to engage the broader community in the effort if it were to succeed. Schools would have to sign up to participate, students would have to enter the pathways, and businesses would have to provide work-based learning for youth. The leaders needed to make sure as many people as possible knew about the program and supported it” (p.19).

The brief concludes with an outcomes report and summary of future challenges:
“While the initiative has been successful, the partners face some challenges moving forward [such as changes in leadership, funding uncertainty, and inadequate student preparedness]. These challenges do not threaten to unravel the initiative, but the leaders need to address them to ensure that Pathways accomplishes its goals” (p.23-24).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

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Workforce System Strategies Content Information

Content Type: Resource
Target Populations: Employers - All | Youth customers - All

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Views: 87
Publicaton Date: 2017
Posted: 12/10/2018 9:38 PM
Posted In: Workforce System Strategies
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