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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse
    Reference Type: SSRC Products
    Year: 2018

    This set of selections focuses on career pathways. SSRC Selections highlight research, evaluation reports, and other publications that inform the field about key issues in, and effective practices for, fostering economic self-sufficiency.

    This set of selections focuses on career pathways. SSRC Selections highlight research, evaluation reports, and other publications that inform the field about key issues in, and effective practices for, fostering economic self-sufficiency.

  • Individual Author: Laychak, Ryan
    Reference Type: SSRC Products
    Year: 2016

    Posted by Ryan Laychak, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    In a 2014 report, researchers suggested that in today’s economy, a sizeable skills gap exists between job seekers and available jobs. Assessing data in New York City, the authors found over 44,000 current openings in “middle-skill” jobs but about half of New Yorkers age 25 and older lacked the training or skills to fill them. Employers today struggle to find skilled workers especially in the healthcare and technology sectors.

    Since 2012, the U.S. Departments of Education,...

    Posted by Ryan Laychak, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    In a 2014 report, researchers suggested that in today’s economy, a sizeable skills gap exists between job seekers and available jobs. Assessing data in New York City, the authors found over 44,000 current openings in “middle-skill” jobs but about half of New Yorkers age 25 and older lacked the training or skills to fill them. Employers today struggle to find skilled workers especially in the healthcare and technology sectors.

    Since 2012, the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor have proposed that workforce, education and human service programs and systems serving low-skill workers offer aligned “Career Pathways” supports to help address this growing gap. They define a career pathways approach as one that offers “a series of connected education and training strategies and support services that enable individuals to secure industry relevant certification and obtain employment within an occupational area and to advance to higher levels of future education and employment in that area.” Simply put, the approach provides opportunities for individuals to gain credentials that lead to long-term career paths.

    In recent years, there has been a growing practice and policy literature base discussing how to develop and implement career pathway programs. A 2014 report from CLASP in partnership with ten states that offer career pathway programs introduced a conceptual framework for implementing the approach. The report and accompanying materials identified several key aspects to a successful career pathways approach, including: quality education and training, consistent and non-duplicative assessments, supportive and employment services, and work experience. A 2013 literature review from the Office of Planning Research and Evaluation (OPRE) on career pathway initiatives further identified the below common elements across most existing programs:

    • Training designed to overcome educational deficits and expedite the credential processes needed for sector-specific employment.
    • Counseling, tutoring, and other supportive services to help participants during training.
    • Employer engagement in program design and implementation.
    • Collaboration with key stakeholders and service providers.
    • Accessible training that fits into low-income participants’ life circumstances and schedules.

    Research in the career pathways field is also growing. There are several impact studies of career pathways programs underway, with promising interim findings. The 2013 literature review from OPRE, assessing existing research at the time, noted that in-process studies suggest that career pathway programs can produce positive outcomes for low-income populations and similar programs can increase employment and earnings opportunities. Initial or interim reports since on the WorkAdvance, Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) and Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) career pathways programs similarly found positive enrollment and completion rates for occupational skills training programs and high program engagement among participants.

    The SSRC and the OFA PeerTA Libraries contains numerous evaluation reports and stakeholder resources on career pathways literature, including:

    For more resources, check out the SSRC Library and subscribe to SSRC or follow us on Twitter to receive updates about upcoming events, new library materials on self-sufficiency topics of interest to you and more. 

  • Individual Author: Kendall, Jessica R.
    Reference Type: SSRC Products
    Year: 2018

    Posted by Jessica R. Kendall, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    The demand for a highly skilled workforce continues to rise. While the unemployment rate today is low, many skilled positions remain open as American workers’ educational levels or skills don’t match business’s needs. Simply put, increasing the capacities of low-skilled workers is necessary.

    Earlier welfare-to-work evaluations, however, showed educational or training programs, by themselves, had minimal positive effects on participants’ employment outcomes or welfare receipt.

    But, since the Great Recession, next-generation strategies have begun to take more comprehensive...

    Posted by Jessica R. Kendall, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    The demand for a highly skilled workforce continues to rise. While the unemployment rate today is low, many skilled positions remain open as American workers’ educational levels or skills don’t match business’s needs. Simply put, increasing the capacities of low-skilled workers is necessary.

    Earlier welfare-to-work evaluations, however, showed educational or training programs, by themselves, had minimal positive effects on participants’ employment outcomes or welfare receipt.

    But, since the Great Recession, next-generation strategies have begun to take more comprehensive approaches to help individuals acquire in-demand skills and industry-recognized credentials. They do so, in part, by increasing coordination across education, training, human service, and business efforts.

    A joint letter released by the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor, in 2012 (and later with additional agencies in 2016), promoted these career pathways approaches as participant-centered and efficient. They defined career pathways as "a series of connected education and training strategies and support services that enable individuals to secure industry relevant certifications and obtain employment within an occupational area and to advance to higher levels of future education and employment in that area."

    Since then and based on a growing body of literature, federal agencies have developed tools and resources for the field to design and implement career pathway strategies. The Department of Labor’s 2016 toolkit suggests six key elements to a career pathways approach: (1) building cross-agency partnerships and clarifying roles; (2) identifying industry sectors and engaging employers; (3) designing education and training programs; (4) identifying funding needs and sources; (5) aligning policies and programs; and (6) measuring systems change and performance.

    In addition to resources, early analyses from several evaluations—many of which are federally funded—increase the body of evidence assessing the effectiveness of career pathway strategies, including:

    Accelerating Opportunity (AO): This quasi-experimental study assessed the education and employment outcomes for low-skilled adults participating in integrated career pathway programs at community or technical colleges across four states. The impact analysis showed that AO students earned more credentials with fewer credits, suggesting an accelerated learning path. AO also showed strong positive earning impacts for some subgroups of students (e.g., those recruited from career and technical education (CTE) programs or adult education), but not significant gains for all students during the several quarter follow-up period.

    Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program (TAACCCT): The U.S. Department of Labor’s four rounds of TAACCCT grants aim to increase the ability of community colleges to offer career-focused education and training that meets employer demands. Data and results to date show that over 60 percent of program participants have either completed the program or were retained as of 2015. In comparison, a 2016 study found that about 66 percent of students at two-year institutions failed to earn any credential within six years. Of employed participants, 32 percent experienced a wage increase at some point after starting the program. Almost 60 percent of completers who were employed before or during the first three months after exit kept their jobs at least through the following two quarters.

    The Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE): The PACE project is a rigorous evaluation of nine career pathway strategies. Using a random assignment methodology, the evaluation is assessing programs in community colleges, community-based organizations, and workforce agencies. An early report from the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County site found that its Health Careers for All program increased the number of participants enrolled in healthcare-related training in an 18-month follow-up period. There was no impact, however, on credential receipt or total hours of training. Later reports will assess the program’s impacts on job placement and earnings. Key features of the program include case management services, tuition-free access to training, employment services, and financial assistance. Similarly, an early report from the Pima Community College site in Tucson, Arizona found increased hours in healthcare occupational training and credentials received among program participants. The program had limited effects on employment 18-months after random assignment. Despite this, evaluators found positive impacts on self-assessed progress towards career goals, increased confidence in career knowledge, and access to career supports. Key features of Pima’s program included five healthcare career paths with stackable credentials, career counseling, scholarships, compressed basic skills programming, and job search assistance.

    As a next-generation, education and employment strategy, career pathways approaches show promise. Ongoing studies will provide a more in-depth understanding of their short and long-term impacts on helping low-income individuals not only increase their skills but find careers that last and improve family self-sufficiency.

    Learn more about career pathways from the SSRC:

    The SSRC Library contains numerous reports and stakeholder resources about career pathways, including:

    For more resources, check out the SSRC Library and subscribe to SSRC or follow us on Twitter to receive updates about upcoming events, new library materials on self-sufficiency topics of interest to you and more. 

  • Individual Author: Dobbs, Kim Stupica; Constance, Nicole; Abens, Amanda; Gardiner, Karen; Ruvkun, Seanna Melchior
    Reference Type: Conference Paper
    Year: 2018

    This session provided an overview of the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) study and described the experiences of two Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) programs participating in the PACE evaluation. The program leaders’ experiences in PACE helped them assess what aspects of their programs worked, what needed to change, and what influenced the design of the programs for future funding. Nicole Constance (Administration for Children and Families) moderated this session, and Kim Stupica Dobbs (Administration for Children and Families) served as a discussant. (Author introduction)

    This session provided an overview of the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) study and described the experiences of two Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) programs participating in the PACE evaluation. The program leaders’ experiences in PACE helped them assess what aspects of their programs worked, what needed to change, and what influenced the design of the programs for future funding. Nicole Constance (Administration for Children and Families) moderated this session, and Kim Stupica Dobbs (Administration for Children and Families) served as a discussant. (Author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Engstrom, Whitney; Fein, David; Gardiner, Karen
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2014

    A substantial skills gap exists between the education and training of the labor force and the needs of employers in many high growth industries, including healthcare and manufacturing. This gap results in unemployment while good paying jobs go unfilled. At the same time, many low-skilled adults persist in low wage work with little opportunity for advancement.

    Career pathways programs, like Year Up, are an approach to fill a vital need for skilled workers in the economy and offer low-wage workers the opportunity to obtain occupational and other skills and advance into the middle class.

    This brief was produced by Abt Associates as part of the Innovative Strategies to Increase Self-Sufficiency (ISIS) project, a random assignment evaluation of nine promising career pathways programs that aim to improve employment and self-sufficiency outcomes for low-income, low-skilled individuals. (author abstract)

    A substantial skills gap exists between the education and training of the labor force and the needs of employers in many high growth industries, including healthcare and manufacturing. This gap results in unemployment while good paying jobs go unfilled. At the same time, many low-skilled adults persist in low wage work with little opportunity for advancement.

    Career pathways programs, like Year Up, are an approach to fill a vital need for skilled workers in the economy and offer low-wage workers the opportunity to obtain occupational and other skills and advance into the middle class.

    This brief was produced by Abt Associates as part of the Innovative Strategies to Increase Self-Sufficiency (ISIS) project, a random assignment evaluation of nine promising career pathways programs that aim to improve employment and self-sufficiency outcomes for low-income, low-skilled individuals. (author abstract)

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