ABE Career Connections: A Manual for Integrating Adult Basic Education into Career Pathways

MPR Associates, Inc.
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education
Publication Year
Resource Type
Number of Pages

Connecting Adult Basic Education (ABE) with postsecondary career is an integral step to improving both the education and employability of low-skilled adults. Adult Basic Education Career Connections (ABECC) was a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, from 2006 to 2010 to work with five sites across the country to demonstrate the impact of connecting ABE programs with career pathways in prominent industries in their communities. This manual provides an overview of career pathways and describes the efforts used by the ABECC sites to create partnerships and connect basic skills training to local career pathways. The manual is divided into the following sections: overview of ABE career pathways, pathways descriptions of pathway components with examples, conclusion, resources and glossary. The components section includes student recruitment, orientation and placement, course development, partnerships, data collection and data analysis. Each section includes information from each of the five participating agencies including challenges and solutions. The resource section lists descriptions of each resource made available to the project staff and the participants with the links to resources available online. The conclusions drawn in this manual from the five sites provides insight how ABE programs can successfully construct career pathways for adults to improve educational and career advancements.
        Key Conclusions stated:

  • Pathway design and implementation requires significant investments of time and effort, especially during the initial planning stage.
  • Considerable time should be devoted to ensuring that the skills and interests of potential participants match pathways’ goals and requirements.
  • Information from multiple sources must be consulted to ensure that:
    • The pathway focus is relevant to employers;
    • The curriculum aligns with postsecondary entry requirements;
    • Participants can acquire the necessary knowledge and skills within the established timeframe to be successful in further education and at work;
    • Partnerships are essential to the success of ABE pathways;
    • Programs can expand pathway efforts by leveraging other funding sources and building on existing models;
    • Pathway programs should be evaluated continually to assess their effectiveness and to make any improvements needed to better serve pathway participants (pg.35).
Benefits and Uses

The main value of the manual is it can be used to help ABE programs undertake similar work by providing an overview of career pathways. It also describes approaches used by the ABECC sites to align basic skills training and partnership efforts with local career pathways. It accomplishes this goal using examples from programs working with high-need occupations in health care and the building trades and a wide range of learners (i.e., ESL, GED, and ABE). The curriculum integrates basic skills with technical content from occupations. The lay-out is clear and easy to follow with boxed summaries serving as checklists. The manual is built upon an established framework (i.e., career pathways) and the well established concept of integrating basic skills instruction with technical career content. The manual is program support material and doesn’t report research as such. For example, it describes how programs might gather data on effectiveness; it does not report the results of these efforts. It does share detailed examples of how the programs operated and the programs were built upon solid theoretical ground. The greatest limitation was the results of program data described as being gathered about impact on learners were not included.

Required Training

Knowledge of ABE