In recent years workforce development and welfare reform policy and programs, as well as the nation’s technical and community colleges, have been faced increasingly with the challenge of preparing low-income individuals with limited vocational skills and work experience for better-paying jobs requiring post-secondary training. Career pathways (CP) programs have developed over the past decade as a comprehensive framework of adult developmental and vocational education and supportive services designed to address this challenge. They represent a potential structural change in the system of vocational training for their target populations. Most of the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) programs have implemented workforce development programs that include many, if not all, of the essential components of the CP framework. This report reviews selected research studies on CP program design, implementation, outcomes and impacts. It is intended to inform the design of an implementation, systems and outcomes evaluation of HPOG. This evaluation (referred to as the HPOG National Implementation Evaluation) is being designed to address the following major research questions:
- • How are health professions training programs being implemented across the grantee sites?
- • What changes to the service delivery system are associated with program implementation?
- • What individual-level outputs and outcomes occur (for example: recruitment, enrollment, retention, completion, certification, job entry, employment retention and advancement, and earnings)?
- • What can be learned about how best to implement these programs for this population (what implementation and/or systems components are related to program outputs and outcomes)?
- • What key components appear necessary or contribute to the success of these programs?
This literature review essay includes a section on CP program design and implementation, a section on outcome and impact studies and a section summarizing the implications of the research literature for the HPOG National Implementation Evaluation design. (author abstract)