Alliance for Quality Career Pathways

July 11, 2012


UPDATE: The Alliance for Quality Career Pathways is currently editing the beta framework. The final version will be released in June 2014.

The Alliance for Quality Career Pathways (AQCP) is a two-year (2012-2014), state-driven, CLASP-led initiative funded by the Joyce Foundation and James Irvine Foundation to identify criteria and indicators that define high-quality career pathway systems and a set of shared performance metrics for measuring and managing their success.

The career pathways approach connects progressive levels of basic skills and postsecondary education, training, and supportive services in specific sectors or cross-sector occupations in a way that optimizes the progress and success of individuals- including those with limited education, English, skills, and/or work experience-in securing marketable credentials, family-supporting employment, and further education and employment opportunities. Career pathways help employers meet their workforce needs and help states and communities strengthen their workforces and economies. They are spreading quickly across the country in workforce development, adult education, and community colleges. At least 10 states are engaged in statewide career pathways efforts and the federal government has endorsed the approach as a promising model to expand the number of postsecondary-educated adult workers in a state or local area.

Many resources and handbooks have been developed on how to design and develop career pathways and how to identify the key elements of a pathways approach. However, there are no existing and verified guidelines to help state and local career pathway partners ensure that they are building a high-quality effort that is likely to yield the strongest possible student outcomes. This is the goal of the AQCP which will be achieved through a consensus-building process driven by leading career pathways states over a two-year period (2012-2014).

Defining High-Quality Career Pathway Systems

One of the primary advantages of the career pathways approach is its responsiveness to specific and dynamic local contexts-no two career pathways will ever be exactly the same. This project will honor this critical characteristic. The framework developed by the Alliance for Quality Career Pathways is intended to provide a common understanding of high-quality career pathway systems and programs, regardless of the targeted industry, occupation, or credentials; the targeted population; or the design of the career pathways or programs. State and local/regional partnerships adopting the career pathway approach-within and beyond the ten Alliance states-can use the Alliance framework to build and strengthen their career pathway systems. This will enable them to provide seamless career paths that transcend the disconnects in the current system and provide essential supports for youths and adults - including those with limited education, English, skills, and/or work experiences - to build their skills, earn credentials of value, and access jobs and careers that support themselves and their families.

Our vision is that the Alliance framework will be instrumental in the continued growth and scaling of the career pathways field. It can be used to help existing career pathway systems ratchet up quality, help accelerate the development of new career pathway systems, and inform evaluation efforts of career pathway systems. The framework is designed to strike a balance between being deeply rooted in the reality of current career pathway efforts and aspiring to move the field to the next level of development.

Participating Alliance States 

Ten states will form the core of the Alliance, meeting several times over the course of the two-year project to identify criteria and indicators of high-quality career pathways systems and shared metrics for performance measurement and continuous improvement. These Alliance states are: Arkansas, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Learn More About the Alliance

View the AQCP Beta Framework's Executive Summary

View our two working papers:

The first paper lays the foundation for the Alliance's framework of quality criteria and shared performance metrics. The second paper presents a framework for measurement and examines important aspects to consider in developing career pathway metrics.

View the National Advisory Group Member List>>

Contact Us 

For more information about AQCP, please contact our CLASP project staff.

Vickie Choitz
Project Director

Manuela Ekowo
Project Manager

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