Creating Career Pathways in Colorado: A Step-by-Step Guide

This guide provides a roadmap to building career pathways systems at the state level.

Collaborative Economics
The Woolsey Group
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Collaborative Economics
The Woolsey Group
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages

A career pathway is a series of connected education and training programs, work experiences, and student support services that enable individuals to secure a job or advance in a demand industry or occupation. This guide provides a step-by-step process for creating career pathways. The primary audience for this guide is education and training institutions that are jointly responsible for designing and building seamless career pathway systems that ensure individual students and jobseekers get jobs in the driving sectors of their local economies.

The Colorado career pathways model assumes that pathways are driven out of emerging and existing sector partnerships. Sector partnerships bring together employers, at a regional level, from the same industry with the education, training and other community support programs needed to implement solutions and services that ensure the target industry thrives.

The model consists of 17 steps in five areas:

Part I: Build the Sector Partnership

1. Defining the Scope of Your Sector Partnership
2. Preparing to Launch Your Sector Partnership
3. Holding Your Launch Meeting
4. Organizing the Aftermath

Part II: Reveal the Sector’s Talent Landscape

5. Understand the Industry’s Critical Occupations
6. Develop a Rough (Not perfect!) Inventory of Education and Training Programs
7. Get the Real Story from Employers

Part III: Act Now and Lay the Groundwork for the Long Term

8. Do Something Now about Specific Critical Occupation Shortages
9. Organize Jobs by Skill Sets and Levels
10. Deeply Understand the Underlying Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs)
11. Turn Your Rough Education and Training Inventory into a Refined Asset Map

Part IV: Build a System for Continuous Talent Generation and Career Mobility

12. Apply KSAs in as Many Ways as Possible
13. Turn Your Education and Training Asset Map into a Clear Skill Attainment Map
14. Market It For All Audiences
15. Create Your Career Pathway Action Plan

Part V: Ensure Your Career Pathway has Owners and a Home: Your Sector Partnership

16. Transition to Implementation
17. Sustainable Implementation

Guidance is provided to help users decide where to begin in the process.

What the experts say

Creating Career Pathways in Colorado: A Step-by-Step Guide will help practitioners understand how to organize jobs by skill sets and levels and understand that each occupation has specific knowledge and skills sets assigned to it. This is a great tool for facilitating meetings with employers to get down to the grassroots level on skills sets and occupational career ladders, which is very much needed in the field.

This guide could be used in case studies of adult work-related education, in a study circle in other kinds of professional development for administrators or industry educators. Many useful action steps and substantive examples are provided in the guide.

The guide is founded on a partnership concept consisting of multiple components including partners (strategic partners, industry members, and convener), a career pathway system, and an industry cluster. These components all interact with each other to create a partnership for success.

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