Building a Higher Skilled Workforce: Results and Implications from the BridgeConnect National Survey
Bridge programs, defined in this report as programs designed to help prepare low-skilled individuals for jobs that require more education, are growing in number across the country. Bridge programs aim to assist students in obtaining the academic and technical skills needed to enter and succeed in postsecondary education and training programs and career track employment. In an effort to fully understand the diversity and scale of bridge programs, the Joyce Foundation commissioned the Workforce Strategy Center (WSC) to develop a composite profile of bridge programs throughout the United States.
The BridgeConnect Survey, developed by WSC, was based upon a literature review and discussions with key actors in the field. Responses were collected from 515 programs across 47 states that met the eligibility criteria outlined by WSC. This report highlights survey findings and describes the educational and career track outcomes of program completers, industries of emphasis, program elements, target populations, and funding streams. Three major conclusions were reported: (1) no community of practice exists to advance the field, (2) new questions emerged and new research will be needed beyond the self-reported data collected in this study, and (3) a diverse set of stakeholders are involved.
The report also includes feedback received from respondents regarding interest in further information, and offers recommendations for follow-on activities. BridgeConnect revealed that there are many efforts underway across the country with many different funding sources, target populations, standards, goals, and outcomes.
BridgeConnect is a national survey designed to help determine the depth and breadth of bridge programs throughout the country. Quantifying the number and types of programs in operation can help policymakers and funders improve both policy and practice related to adult education. A critical mass of bridge programs may suggest the approach is ready for rigorous evaluation; that an effort to formally identify standard of excellence is warranted; or that it is time to identify strategies for scaling up the most effective programs for job seeking adults.
This resource was reviewed and vetted through the Policy to Performance: Transitioning Adults to Opportunity initiative of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education under Contract No. ED-04-CO-0051/0007.