OCTAE Provides a “One-Stop” Shop for Career Pathways Resources

By Manuela Ekowo

The career pathways movement continues to gain steam, thanks to the enactment of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and several other efforts highlighted in the U.S Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services’ recent National Dialogue on Career Pathways. States are looking for ways to best implement the new law, strengthen career pathways, and build career pathway systems to meet the needs of their communities and local economies.

As the career pathway approach starts to become codified in federal law, it is important to have a common understanding of quality career pathways and systems, such as the shared vision proposed by the Alliance for Quality Career Pathways (AQCP). In addition, practitioners, policymakers, administrators, funders, and others can benefit from the numerous valuable resources that have been created to help them develop career pathways. The Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) in the U.S. Department of Education launched a new initiative earlier this year to do just that.

OCTAE’s Moving Pathways Forward: Supporting Career Pathways Integration will assist states in advancing career pathways systems to transition low-skilled adults to postsecondary education and employment. In October, this initiative will launch the Career Pathways Exchange, which will consolidate and distribute career pathways-related tools, events, and information from federal and state agencies and partner organizations. CLASP will contribute to the Career Pathways Exchange by sharing our relevant resources with new audiences through the Exchange’s network.

Members of the Exchange can select to receive updates on topics of interest which include: building cross-agency partnerships; identifying industry sectors and engaging employers; designing education and training programs; identifying funding needs and sources; aligning policies and programs; and measuring system change and performance. We encourage those working to strengthen and improve career pathways and systems and looking for a central hub of resources for this work to join the Exchange.          

The Alliance framework, Shared Vision, Strong Systems, jointly developed by CLASP and ten leading career pathway states and their local/regional partners, is one of many resources featured in the Exchange. The framework provides a clear set of criteria and indicators for what constitutes a quality state and local/regional career pathway system as well as metrics to assess participant progress and success, all of which mirror the Exchange’s key interest topics listed above. Phase II of the Alliance, which launched this Fall, will focus on implementing the framework and sharing lessons with the field.

We believe the Exchange will be a useful tool for states and local programs as it will streamline information across multiple outlets, providing members with ongoing updates on available resources and upcoming events to facilitate a deeper national dialogue on career pathways systems development and implementation. In addition, resources and information distributed through the Exchange are vetted and released based on their relevance to members, ensuring the offerings are tailored to the task at hand: to provide relevant education and training to disadvantaged populations, youth and adults alike, that will enable them to be successful in today’s economy.

For more information about CLASP’s participation in this nationwide federal initiative, please contact CLASP’s AQCP staff and sign up for updates on the Alliance. In addition, we encourage you to follow the Exchange on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to stay current on career pathways events and resources, as well as adult education and WIOA updates.