Career Pathways Toolkit: Six Key Elements for Success – Element Three: Design Education and Training Programs

This resource helps practitioners better understand career pathways programs and expand practioners’ professional knowledge.

Social Policy Research Associates
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor
Publication Year
Resource Type
Key Words

The Career Pathways Toolkit provides a comprehensive guide to understanding, developing, implementing, and sustaining successful career pathways programs. Career pathway programs offer a clear sequence, or pathway, of education coursework and/or training credentials aligned with employer-validated work readiness standards and competencies. This systems approach makes it easier for people to earn industry-recognized credentials (through more flexible avenues and opportunities for relevant education and training) and to attain marketable skills so that they can more easily find work in growing careers. The Career Pathways Toolkit describes each of “Six Key Elements for Success” in detail, providing case studies of promising practices throughout and a toolbox containing development team activities and resources. This resource is divided into three major sections.

The first section of this Career Pathways Toolkit provides an overview of the Six Key Elements:
1. Build cross-agency partnerships and clarify roles
2. Identify sector or industry and engage employers
3. Design education and training programs
4. Identify funding needs and sources
5. Align policies and programs
6. Measure system change and performance

The second section of the Career Pathways Toolkit presents the tools developed to assist leadership teams in building and sustaining their career pathways systems. Organized as a “how-to” guide for facilitators, this section describes each tool’s purpose and gives instructions for using it.

The final section of the Career Pathways Toolkit is a collection of additional resources that may be useful to a team considering development of a career pathways system. It includes a glossary of terms, a list of resources and links that facilitators and leadership teams have found valuable in supporting their career pathways system development, and a bibliography of sources referenced and reviewed in the toolkit.

Benefits and Uses

Using the tools provided, practitioners will be able to develop, implement, and sustain career pathways programs. Within Element Three: Design Education and Training Programs, practitioners will be able to (1) Identify target populations and their “entry” points; (2) Review or develop competency models; (3) Develop career ladders and lattices; (4) Seek employer validation of competencies and pathways; (5) Design educational options that are progressive, modularized, accelerated, and contextualized; (6) Ensure programs lead to industry recognized and/or postsecondary credentials; (7) Provide comprehensive wrap-around support services; and (8) Provide flexible scheduling.

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.