CLASP and Greater Twin Cities United Way to host forum on Career Pathways

Oct 17, 2013

By Vickie Choitz

A version of this post originally appeared in United Front on September 25

On November 7, CLASP will be participating in Strengthening Your Career Pathways Systems: Tools, Tips and Tactics in St. Paul, Minnesota. The forum is hosted by Greater Twin Cities United Way and sponsored by CLASP. The day-long event will feature local, state, and national leaders committed to supporting career pathways. The conference is open to career pathway leaders and practitioners outside Minnesota and will feature promising practices from several states.

Why the Twin Cities?

According to a report by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, the Twin Cities is one of the most highly educated populations in the country, with a high median household income, strong job growth, and one of the lowest poverty rates among large metro regions. At the same time, the Twin Cities' success hides bleak socioeconomic disparities that leave behind minorities and threaten the area's economic competitiveness.

In 2000, whites in the Twin Cities region had a median household income of $56,642, compared to $29,404 for African Americans and $38,909 for Mexican Americans. In 2009, the metropolitan area had the highest black-white unemployment ratio among the 50 largest metro regions in the country: blacks were 3.1 times as likely to be unemployed as whites, compared to the national average of 2.0.

Some of the disparity can be explained by differences in educational attainment by race; however, the Itasca Project Disparities Taskforce found that gaps persist even when controlling for educational levels.

Why Career Pathways?

Education and workforce development solutions could help reduce these disparities, creating equal opportunity and increasing economic competitiveness. A career pathways approach is a promising strategy, especially for helping low-skilled, low-income adults and out-of-school youth access education, training, and career-building employment.

A career pathways approach connects progressive levels of basic skills and postsecondary education, training, and supportive services in specific industry sectors (or occupations). It optimizes the progress and success of individuals-including those with limited education, English, skills, and/or work experiences-in securing marketable credentials, family-supporting employment, and further education and employment opportunities. Recognizing that many adults must balance work, family, and school, career pathways provide manageable segments of education and training that are tailored to adult learner needs, closely tied to regional industry and employer needs, and infused with supportive services and career navigation assistance. This effective approach helps adults secure marketable credentials that can be stacked throughout their careers.

The best career pathways are jointly developed by employer, public, and nonprofit partners (and labor partners where applicable) and are reinforced by policies and practices implemented by employers that support participant engagement and career progression. This meaningful employer engagement in career pathways can improve access to employers and higher-wage employment for minorities who have the same educational qualifications as whites but still face employment and income disparities.

The November forum will convene both regional and federal leaders, including Deputy Commissioner of Workforce Development for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Cynthia Bauerly; U.S. Department of Labor's Employment & Training Administration Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary Eric Seleznow; National Skills Coalition Executive Director Andy Van Kleunen; and National Governors Association Senior Policy Analyst Garrett Groves.

Register to attend forum>>

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