Building a Pipeline to Employment: Lessons from Publicly and Privately Funded Career and Technical Education and Career Pathways Programs
(Employment and Training Programs)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Finding and maintaining well-paying employment for the nation’s youth is an ongoing policy challenge that stems from low high school graduation rates, which result in lower earnings compared to graduates over a lifetime (Kena et al. 2014; Stark and Noel 2015; Doland 2001), and a mismatch between the skills of high school–educated youth and the needs of employers (Holzer et al. 2011). Many public agencies and private organizations have sought to address this challenge by funding career and technical education (CTE) and career pathways programs, designed to keep youth in school while improving the pipeline to employment in the local labor market. This panel’s papers present findings from evaluations of and assistance provided to such programs.
The first two papers present implementation study findings from the Evaluation of the Youth CareerConnect (YCC) program. Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, YCC’s 24 grantees implemented career-focused curriculum and opportunities for high school students to earn postsecondary credits while combining academics and technical training, specific in-demand industry coursework, and academic and career counseling. YCC also brought together secondary and postsecondary education providers, employers, workforce system agencies, and support service organizations to deliver services tailored to each local employment market. The first paper focuses on the overall implementation of YCC over its five-year lifespan, and the ways in which grantees: increased enrollment, improved services designed to prepare students for college and careers, provided academic and nonacademic supports for struggling students, supported partnerships and implemented strategies to sustain YCC. The second paper highlights the strategies that grantees employed to build partnerships with employers and the workforce system, which were essential for providing work-based learning opportunities, including mentoring and internships. Strategies to build such partnerships included creating dedicated liaisons and increasing partner engagement opportunities. Findings for both papers come from grantee surveys, site visits, and participant MIS data.
The third paper presents findings from the evaluation of the New Skills for Youth initiative, funded by JPMorgan Chase, which looks at 10 states that received three-year grants to implement and expand career pathways models designed to prepare students for high-skill, high-demand jobs offering the best prospects for meaningful employment and economic growth. The initiative requires states to build partnerships across state agencies and among K-12 schools, postsecondary institutions, and employers. The presentation highlights the role of state context in shaping career pathways, early state successes in scaling high quality programs, and opportunities for future state-level intervention.
The fourth paper reports on the efforts that CTE intermediaries around the country, funded through public and private dollars, have undertaken to identify and adapt program metrics to understand whether access to these programs is equitable and how participants engage and progress through them. CTE intermediaries, particularly those still early in their development, are typically fully extended when trying to increase linkages between high schools, colleges, and employers. A research partner can help investigate program implementation, sort through potential data sources and measures to help with ongoing program improvement, and lay the ground work for future evaluation.