CLASP Highlights Career Pathways in New Book on Workforce, Education Strategies

By Manuela Ekowo

A new book from the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and Kansas City and Rutgers University’s John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development examines the state of today’s labor market as well as strategies to improve workforce development and education. Transforming U.S. Workforce Development Policies for the 21st Century, produced in collaboration with CLASP and other workforce experts, highlights transformative workforce and education policies that improve employment opportunities for students and workers, with a special focus on those experiencing the greatest barriers. This includes the long-term unemployed, those with limited formal education, older and youth workers, minorities, and individuals with disabilities.

Divided into four parts, the book presents leading scholars’ and practitioners’ recommendations for reforming policies and programs to address major workforce challenges. Part 1, “Transforming the U.S. Workforce Development System,” examines the strengths and limitations of U.S. workforce policies. Part 2, “Redesigning Workforce Development Strategies,” offers ideas to help educators and workforce programs better serve employers and job seekers. Authors cover such topics as improving labor market and career information, restructuring postsecondary financial aid programs, delivering online training and education courses, improving credentialing, and involving employers in the development and delivery of training.

CLASP’s chapter, A New Way of Doing Business: The Career Pathway Approach in Minnesota and Beyond, explores career pathways for low-income, lower-skilled adults. It describes the efforts of the Alliance for Quality Career Pathways, a collaboration between CLASP and ten career pathway states, to develop a shared understanding of quality career pathway systems. The chapter also features a case study of Minnesota’s FastTRAC (Training, Resources, and Credentialing) program, an adult achievement initiative to help educationally underprepared adults achieve success in high-demand careers that pay family-sustaining wages. The case study describes two programs within Minnesota’s FastTRAC’s suite of career pathways and explains how state partners are making it possible to integrate basic skills with career and technical education along a continuum from foundational skills preparation to postsecondary credentials.

Part 3 of the book, “Building Evidence-Based Policy and Practice,” includes chapters and case studies examining how systematic data collection and analysis, as well as evaluations, are being used to improve state and local workforce programs. Part 4, “Targeted Strategies,” includes chapters and case studies on effective policies and programs that are meeting the needs of American workers and employers. Authors highlight evidence-based practices from states and communities and describe why these approaches can help both job seekers and employers. The authors consider how these practices could become more widely available throughout the U.S.

Transforming U.S. Workforce Development Policies for the 21st Century is an excellent resource for workforce development providers, postsecondary educators, federal, state, and local policymakers, community-based organizations, researchers, business, the philanthropic community, and students. Click here to read an electronic version.