Guide to Adult Education for Work: Transforming Adult Education to Grow a Skilled Workforce

This resource contains both evidence-based research and practice-based materials that can help guide the development, implementation, and continuous improvement of career pathways programs.

Dr. Audrey Theis
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
National Center on Education and the Economy
Workforce Development Strategies Group
Publication Year
Resource Type
Key Words
Number of Pages

This guide outlines the steps policymakers, program administrators, and providers can take to begin to transform their current adult education programs to Adult Education for Work. Specifically, this guide offers practical advice for getting started and includes the following:

  • A rationale for change by answering the questions: What is America’s basic skills problem? Why is it a threat to economic competitiveness? Why is our current delivery system inadequate to meet these concerns in the 21st-century economy?
  • A vision for how a comprehensive career pathways system can be constructed to better meet our nation’s skill needs;
  • A framework for an effective Adult Education for Work program with twenty-three quality elements (organized in seven focus areas) that are designed to prepare adults for both postsecondary learning and work;
  • Benchmarks and promising practices that illustrate examples of quality elements already in action in programs across the country; and
  • A self-assessment tool that program administrators and providers can use to evaluate the status of their current program design and offerings against the recommended set of benchmarks, identify gaps, and plan strategically for needed change.
Benefits and Uses

Program administrators and developers will explore Adult Education for Work/career pathways program quality indicators in depth and will be able to perform an initial evaluation of their programs based on benchmarks provided.

Resource Notice

This resource was reviewed and vetted through the Designing Instruction for Career Pathways initiative of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education under Contract No. ED-CFO-10-A-0072/0001.