A Deep Dive Into the 6 Elements of the Career Pathways Toolkit

Starting April 5, 2021, this discussion thread will be used for A Deep Dive Into the 6 Elements of the Career Pathways Toolkit. We will have a new guest and new questions to explore each week. A full list of guests will be released in this discussion thread on Friday, April 2, 2021.

I encourage members of the community to review the toolkit over the next few weeks and bring questions and comments to this discussion thread during April and May. 


Hi. This sounds great. I look forward to sharing the COABE Hackathon Career Pathway Project and the numerous resources and links that could be useful to students, teachers, and administrators. Thanks for opening this up for discussion. Jeff A

Starting on Monday, April 5, 2021 our special guest, Emily Lesh, will spend the week with us as we dive into element 1 of the Career Pathways Toolkit- Build Cross-Agency Partnerships and Clarify Roles. 

Please check out Emily's bio below and join her in conversation HERE from April 5th-9th. 

Emily Lesh, Founder of Collaborative Solutions, is a social entrepreneur and change maker. She has over 20 years of experience leading people and groups through processes to achieve big visions, with concrete results. Some highlights of her work include:

  • Coached over a dozen regional teams of CEOs, community non-profit leaders, and government agencies in Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, through the launch of community-supported, industry-led partnerships that resulted in overall community and economic prosperity.

  • Advised and facilitated state governments through processes to foster interagency alignment across education, workforce development, and economic development systems in Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. 

  • Developed and delivered customized training (in-person and virtual) for diverse groups of state and local leaders from workforce development, education, economic development agencies, and organizations in nine states. 

  • Launched the Next Generation Sector Partnership community of practice with a team of independent consultants who developed and scaled the model for building business-led, and community-supported partnerships for collective impact.  

  • Curated and executed several national in-person and virtual convenings, including event project management, agenda design, and delivery of Next Gen Sector Partnership trainings for a national audience of over 400.

Below are the questions Emily will address this week, but please feel free to ask additional questions.


Using WIOA’s definition of a career pathway:

"The term “career pathway” means a combination of rigorous and high-quality education, training, and other services that— (A) aligns with the skill needs of industries in the economy of the State or regional economy involved; (B) prepares an individual to be successful in any of a full range of secondary of postsecondary education options, including apprenticeships registered under the Act of August 16, 1937; (C) includes counseling to support an individual in achieving the individual’s education and career goals; (D) includes, as appropriate, education offered concurrently with and in the same context as workforce preparation activities and training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster; (E) organizes education, training, and other services to meet the particular needs of an individual in a manner that accelerates the educational and career advancement of the individual to the extent practicable; (F) enables an individual to attain a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent, and at least one recognized postsecondary credential; and (G) helps an individual enter or advance within a specific occupation or occupational cluster."

Which part of the definition have programs needed the most support implementing?


What advice would you give to programs when first trying to establish a “Shared Vision, Mission, Goals, and Strategies”?


What are some ways to keep agency partnerships strong when there is staff turnover?


Six Tips

  1. Resist the urge to overcomplicate the vision! Start with your overall vision and always keep your desired outcomes in mind. For instance, your vision might be to establish industry sector-based career pathways in your region. 
  2. Goals and strategies are the heart of your partnership.  This is how you will achieve your mission and vision!
  3. Keep this step simple! It is important to take the time (but not too much time) to come to a joint agreement on what you want to achieve (vision),  why you are doing this or purpose (mission),  and how you will get there (your goals and strategies).
  4. Remember you are building a fluid partnership, not an organization.
  5. Remember the purpose of defining a shared vision, mission, goals, and strategies is to keep your partnership on the same page, on task, and accountable to one another and your partnership. 
  6. Adjust as you go! You will find that your goals and strategies will and should shift over time. Once you've accomplished a goal, celebrate your success, reflect on lessons learned, and evaluate where you need to go next. Don't delay in setting your next goals. Your vision and mission will not likely adjust as often, but they can as your partnership evolves. 

Do any of these tips resonate with you? What has worked for you when establishing a shared vision, mission, goals, and strategies? 

Question: Which part of the definition have programs needed the most support implementing?

There are two types of partnerships at the core of the WIOA career pathway definition: Public-private and cross-agency partnerships. In my experience, building valuable and long-lasting partnerships is the hardest part of the WIOA definition in practice. 


A single education, training, or service provider cannot, on their own, ensure that students receive a postsecondary credential and advance within a job or occupational cluster. They must rely on partnerships with businesses, as well as other education and training providers. This type of partnership is a new way of working for many! Learn more about the role of public-private partnerships and cross-agency partnerships in putting the WIOA definition of career pathways into practice below. 


Public-Private Partnerships

The alignment of education, training, and services with the skill and expertise needs of businesses (employers) in a region happens when education and training programs have deep and meaningful relationships with employers. Ideally, multiple firms from the same sector (i.e., manufacturing or tech) are coming together with education, training, and workforce regularly to: 

  1. Define their current and future skill needs and gaps, 
  2. Identify industry trends, 
  3. Discuss workforce needs, and 
  4. Take joint action to fill these needs. 


Lasting public-private partnerships take commitment from businesses as well as education, training, and workforce development partners. All partners must agree to the purpose of continually coming together and have an agreed-upon structure (it doesn't have to be too formal) to support their efforts. Effective public-private partnerships are continuously taking action and resulting in solid outcomes for the community and regional economy. The value and worth of public-private partnerships are contagious. 


Cross-Agency Partnerships (Public-Public)

Simultaneously, multiple education, training, and other workforce development programs in the community must align services and educational options from courses to credentials and degrees along pathways. It is up to public partners to work together and ensure that students and job seekers have opportunities to advance along educational and occupational paths that align with the regional economy's demands. I find that alignment across education and training programs is often the most complex and challenging for communities. 


Bottom line: Partnership is at the heart of the WIOA Career Pathway definition and requires the public and private sectors to work outside of traditional programmatic and organizational silos. 


What is your experience with public-private partnerships? Public-public partnerships? What successes have you experienced? how about stumbling blocks? One thing is for sure, partnerships take time, dedication, and hard work.  


Tune in tomorrow for advice on first establishing a “Shared Vision, Mission, Goals, and Strategies”. 


I know of some programs that came together in the past to do career pathway work to support individuals who have been touched by the justice system and several of the key people at the table moved onto other jobs or organizations and the partnership really struggled to stay afloat. One part of creating goals and strategies could be to proactively address how the partnership might continue thrive if there is a change in people/partners. 

I am curious to hear how other people have dealt with staff turnover both proactively and reactively as it relates to both public-private partnerships and public-public cross-agency partnerships.


As we look at the different types of partnerships, I wonder if you could speak to the various delivery methods for services. In Illinois, while we have many community and faith based organizations, along with local school districts, a majority of our programs are within community colleges. 

This makes the transition to postsecondary education and career pathway systems a bit easier to implement. I'm not as familiar with these processes for states and programs that come from workforce boards or even libraries. 

Do you see a difference in partnership development and success based on if a program is a community college, library, workplace, or other? 

I'd love to hear how programs approach partnerships. 
Kathy Tracey


Great question, Kathy! I, too, am curious about what others have experienced. 


In the meantime I'l share my observations. I have found that successful partnerships are convened and/or initiated by all types of agencies and organizations ranging from Workforce Boards, Community Colleges, non-profit organizations, School Districts, economic development organizations, human service organizations, and more. Partnerships work best when all organizations and entities involved are able to identify common interests and goals (i.e. keeping students on pathways to careers) and act on behalf of the partnership. One pitfall can be organizational "ownership" of the partnership vs. focusing on common interests and goals.

I'd love to learn what others have experienced too. 

This week we will dive into identifying industry sectors and engaging employers. Our special Guest is William Durden.

William Durden is the Director of Basic Education for Adults (BEdA) with the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, overseeing all adult basic education, English language acquisition, high school completion, and I-BEST programming in the state’s community and technical colleges, Title II-funded Community Based Organizations, and Corrections Education programs. William’s passion is to help create greater social and economic justice for all Washington state residents by integrating adult education programming with college and career pathways that lead to fulfilling careers and further educational opportunities. A former I-BEST instructor, William holds his MA and BA degrees in English studies.


Please add questions related to Element 2 of the Career Pathways Toolkit to this thread for William and other members of the community to answer. 

Will will start of our discussion by addressing this question:

Page 35 of the toolkit shares some roles employers can play in program development. Which of these have you been successful in your state or local area? 


What are some roles employers can play in program development?

I am answering this question from a state perspective - with the goal of getting you to think about your state or local area and spur more dialogue and idea-sharing!

First, please check out the graphic on page 35 of the Career Pathways Toolkit. Now, while we have had success with all of the different roles identified in the graphic, here are a few specifics areas where our I-BEST model in WA state has really made some breakthroughs:

  • Make real, industry-based projects

Employers participate in our I-BEST programs through the program advisory boards that help govern the workforce (or training "T") element of the program. Employers help us look at the curriculum and make sure that the activities we offer in I-BEST are relevant to the industry.

  • Affirm the set of foundational skills, knowledge, and abilities

In Washington state we use the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) to help explain to employers what it is we "do" in our Basic Education for Adults (BEdA) programs. This is also really helpful in collaborating with our training partners, so they know what we bring to the table!

  • Affirm the required certificates and credentials

Employers really drive this bullet point - we embed studying and testing for the needed certificates and credentials into the program so that I-BEST completers have what it takes to be competitive in the job market.

  • Help design education and training programs

I-BEST is a model for what an integrated education and training (IET) program can look like. Employers may not have that much time to spend on program design so it can be helpful to show up with an evidence-based model that is more implementation-ready than designing something from scratch.

  • Assist in instruction

I-BEST is an instruction-led model; it is really about faculty coming together to team-teach both the education (E) and training (T) components of the program. This is my favorite part of the I-BEST model because it really leverages the expertise of our adult education faculty!

  • Hire completers

  Word-of-mouth is as important as ever. We've heard many stories over the years of employers hiring I-BEST completers because they know they are getting a quality worker out of the program.

I'd love to hear your experiences working with I-BEST or I-BEST-like models, and what other thoughts and questions you have about employer engagement in career pathway design!

Thank you Will for bringing up the importance of affirming certifications and credentials with employers early on in the planning stage. A few years ago in Pennsylvania, we did career pathway mapping with a manufacturer of glass products.  They had both apprenticeship and non-apprenticeship pathway options for their employees. Title I and Title II providers sat down with the employer to confirm the certifications, credentials, and skills needed to enter employment and progress through to different occupations. The final career maps, which clearly stated which credentials and certificates where required for each occupation, provided a great visual for career counselors, career navigators, teachers, and the employer to use with prospective and current employees. 

Hi William and all, 

I am very curious to consider how the new National Reporting System (NRS) measurable skills gains options available for workplace literacy and integrated education and training programs and how these may connect to the Career Pathways Toolkit.

I'm looking forward to any insight and ideas. 

Kathy Tracey

Fantastic question Kathy! We are very eager to implement the new MSG options in WA state - although we haven't officially rolled out the new changes yet. I'll take a minute to review the high points of how we're approaching their implementation and why we're so excited!

  • MSG by postsecondary transcript

This msg will work great for IET programs where students earn postsecondary credit, especially if the msg can be measured through data matching. In WA state, where all our I-BEST programs earn college credit, this will be an excellent option.

  • MSG by workplace milestone progress

I'm personally excited to see how this will incent and support incumbent worker programs. That is not the bulk of our IET programming currently but it's a huge area for future expansion. I think especially speaking to the current recommendation from the Career Pathways Toolkit that we are discussing, this MSG has the greatest potential to honor employer goals for the program. It's important that employers see their goals at the heart of their IET, as opposed to education goals that may not seem clear to the employer as being fundamental to their goals. This msg is contextualized measurement!

  • MSG by skills or training completion

Most I-BEST programs conclude with some kind of skills or training credential, as required by the industry or regional employers. Again, this new MSG should be a real boost to measuring effectiveness in an IET program and rewarding employer/industry input.

I would love to hear how else programs are approaching the new MSGs and incorporating them into their IETs.


I work with men and women who face the challenges of a criminal history and we work hard to guide our students to high demand industry sectors for employment. However, I have come to recognize that if we can help train our students and give them skill sets that those employers truly need, they may have a far better chance of not only getting the job, keeping it, but being successful and advancing. Can you share any insights you might have on engaging employers from day one in the educational and skills training process? Thanks

Thanks, Jeffrey, for bringing the men and women you serve into this conversation. You ask an excellent question. I think we are still learning how to engage employers from the beginning with a corrections background in mind; we haven't done enough work in that space, although I'm sure some good examples exist! As you suggest, building IETs in the corrections facility is a key first step of increasing the student's chances of success. Developing a pipeline to regional employers seems like a next level design principle, and one that needs some innovation!

I'm really curious to see what we learn from the projects that emerge from OCTAE's Integrating Education and Training (IET) in Corrections project.

Does anyone else on this thread have any experience on Jeff's question that they can share?


In the Minds that Move Us challenge, Team Woksape (led by Stephanie Rittberger from the Black Hills Special Services Cooperative- Career Learning Center of the Black Hills) proposed an extremely unique approach - and they trained employers on the needs of the students. 

They ensured local employers were trauma-aware, as their project focused on historical trauma and trauma-informed practices). What I found increadibly unique about this approach is that by educating employers on the unique needs of their employees, there was improved communication and expectations. 

We often ask a lot of our students to become 'better' employees. Perhaps we need to shift this focus a bit and help our employers understand the barriers and needs of their students? 

Kathy Tracey

I would like to thank Will Durden for sharing his experiences and knowledge around identifying industry sectors and engaging employers. Also, thank you to those of you in the community that joined in on the conversation.

From April 19-23, 2021 we will be discussing Career Pathways Toolkit Element 3: Design Education and Training Programs and we will have special guest, Bronwyn Robertson, joining us. I am hoping this topic really get us talking and sharing!

Bronwyn Robertson serves as the Office of Adult Education’s Program Specialist for Workforce and Employer Engagement as well as oversees Mississippi’s career pathway course, Smart Start. Mrs. Robertson earned a B.S. in Social Work from Mississippi State University and a M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership from Capella University. Prior to joining the MCCB, Mrs. Robertson served as the Transition Specialist and Smart Start State Lead for Holmes Community College. She has nearly 16 years of community college experience with adult education and workforce development. She has experience in WIOA (formerly WIA), recruiting and transition services and providing direction to students in career pathways. 

Her current position allows her to not only serve as an advisor to local adult education programs as they confront Mississippi’s workforce needs by equipping students through workplace preparation, multi-level career pathways, and transition services, but it also allows opportunities to promote adult education and its vital role in the state’s economic development. 

Bronwyn is also a certified fitness instructor and strives for a healthy lifestyle, so she has a love for exercising and researching healthy life options, specifically recipes. She and her husband Danny live in Jackson, MS, with their two sons, Tanner and Brister.


Please add questions related to Element 3 of the Career Pathways Toolkit to this thread for Bronwyn and other members of the community to answer. 

Here are the questions Bronwyn will address:

Tell us about how Smart Start got started and share one important lesson you learned while developing the program.

Which supportive services have been used the most by adults in the Smart Start program? 

How often are career maps, credentials, and competencies reviewed and updated with employers?


Good afternoon!

When Mississippi's state leadership got around the table back in 2015, they knew we had great opportunity to improve our state's workforce participation rate. I've been involved in workforce development since 2005 and Mississippi's workforce participation rate has always been 2nd to last or pretty close. Currently, we are around 55.4 percent. Our WIOA Combined Plan includes six state programs with one goal in mind -- improve the economic opportunities of all job seekers, specifically those with low skills.

We have three pathways in Mississippi: Smart Start Pathway; Career Tech Pathway; and Work-Ready Pathway. The Smart Start Pathway is for those that need the most intensive services, primarily those without a high school diploma or its equivalent. The course was developed to address career exploration, job search strategies, financial literacy, and necessary essential skills employers need, such as communication, problem solving, customer service, etc. Adult education was the program (core partner) to implement and oversee this pathway. 

When reading through WIOA, we wanted to be intentional with the course. We wanted the curriculum to be relevant to the student and to the needs of ours state. In 2019, we updated the course to be more Mississippi specific. Meaning, our students learn about the top job sectors not only in our state, but in their workforce area. Career exploration is more about the needs of our state's employers; the training required; where the training takes place; and what certificates/credentials are affiliated with that training. Our course is more employment education focused. 

Supportive services that have been needed as I'm sure are in any program, are transportation, accommodations, child-care, clothes, food, etc. We have a very strong partnership with the MS Dpt of Employment Security and the MS Dpt of Human Services, both providing services to our students. One area that we do still struggle with is services for those that might have a learning and/or reading disability. All of our programs have a College & Career Navigator whose sole responsibility is to connect our students to services that will mitigate barriers and assist students with retention and progression in our programs. 

Another area that we are focusing on this year is engaging employers more and bringing awareness to adult education. We currently have a great partnership with our Workforce Development and Career-Tech Departments since we're under the MS Community College Board. Our career pathways which include certificates and credentials are designed by feedback from those two departments as well as employers. With that said, much needs to be done on our end to make employer more aware of our role in the economic development of our state.

I know this is a lot, but it gets the conversation going. I'm excited to learn from others this week, too!

Talk soon, 


Thank you Bronwyn for sharing the great work being done in Mississippi related to designing education and training. Engaging employers through the workforce development system is key before, during, and after implementation of programming to ensure the programming continually aligns to the needs of the current and future workforce. 

Michael Westover Callsen is the Director of College and Career Readiness at District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund in Philadelphia. He has 30 years’ experience in the field of Adult Basic Education. During his career Michael has had many roles, including volunteer tutor, CEO of a literacy nonprofit and Director of Adult Basic and Literacy Education for the state of Pennsylvania.

Michael will lead our discussion this week around Element 4 of the toolkit- Identifying Funding Needs and Sources. 

The District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund was created in 1974 by collective bargaining agreements between District 1199C of the National Union of Hospital & Health Care Employees (NUHHCE) and 11 Philadelphia hospitals. The Training Fund has grown to include more than 50 acute care hospitals, long term care and behavioral health facilities, and homecare agencies. Workers and employers have served on the Board of Trustees since co-signing the first trust agreement to ensure the Training Fund's activities meet both worker and employer needs.

Although terminology has changed over the years, the Training Fund's mission has always been to provide access to career pathways for incumbent workers and job seekers in healthcare and human services through education, training and work-based learning. Visionary, founding President Henry Nicholas was committed to opening the door to healthcare careers with family-sustaining wages from the beginning. The Training Fund broke new ground at its founding with a commitment to serve both union members and the community.

The need for EMT training was identified through discussions with union members, the Philadelphia Fire Department, LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation), ambulance companies, and the local workforce development board. Training as an EMT is a great first step to careers as diverse as fireman and registered nurse depending on the goals of the participants. In addition to EMT skills, the program includes basic academic skills remediation and CPR training, and customer service training.

We believe that building braided support takes time and should be done carefully. Some funders are more open to risk taking than others. Some like to support pilot programs others don't. So, we decided to start the program as a pilot with private support and only open it to community members.

 The pilot program was offered in collaboration with the Fire Department with funding from LISC. The program was off to a great start in February 2020 with 21 participants. (You know what's coming next, right?) When the pandemic was declared, and stay at home orders were issued, the program shifted from an 8-hour per day, intensive classroom and lab-based training to a less intensive virtual classroom experience overnight. Then in June, the Governor included EMT training in his statement on life-sustaining businesses and the program moved to a blended model of online instruction and in-person lab skills training using safe, social distancing guidelines. Ultimately, 10 of the 21 original participants graduated.

Demand continued as EMT training is essential for some union members to be promoted to jobs in patient transportation. With new blended learning skills under their belts, the team planned a second training. LISC continues to support training for community members while union members use their tuition reimbursement benefit. WIOA Title II funds provides basic academic and workplace skills remediation for those who demonstrate a need and are otherwise eligible. The second cohort includes 8 union members and 19 community members. Twenty of them are on track to graduate on time and take the required certification exam.

On page 76 of the Career Pathways Toolkit, Philadelphia-based 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund is featured in the promising practice section. We are excited to have Michael Westover Callsen from 1199C join us this week. Below are the questions he will answer and we hope others from the community will ask more questions, as well. 


What stories can you share about how funds were braided to support career pathways programming?


What types of measures have your leadership teams used to show return on investment?


Thank you, Michael, for sharing ideas on identifying funding sources and giving concrete examples of how your agency adjusted during COVID to help adults continue on their career pathway. 

This week, we welcome Kathy Tracey, fellow LINCS moderator for the Program Management Community. Kathy is the Senior Director for Adult Education and Literacy at the Illinois Community College Board. With over 24 years of diverse professional experience, she is a nationally recognized expert in adult education, corrections education, technology integration, and distance learning. Her educational leadership background includes developing standards aligned curriculum, providing professional development to educators across the country, facilitating national discussions for LINCS, teaching in adult and developmental education, guiding students with academic, career, and personal advising, planning and implementing student-focused programs.

We are excited to have Kathy share her expertise related to the following questions and hope our community members will post additional questions-


What suggestions do you have for states that may be struggling to facilitate cross-agency collaboration?



The following list was shared in the toolkit as the most common barriers identified by states:

• The transferability and recognition of stackable, portable, industry-recognized


• Federal policies and regulations such as training time limits and work participation

requirements of TANF;

• Different performance and outcome measures and participant tracking systems;

• Lack of articulation between credit- and non-credit-bearing pathways;

• Funding limitations; and

• Remaining current on labor market information

Can you talk about how your state has worked through any of these or other barriers? 


Good morning, 

Thanks Chrissie, 

I'm happy to join in this important discussion as we look at strengthening the service integration at the state and local levels. I've certainly heard these concerns across our state. Illinois is 'divided' into Area Planning Councils and it is a requirement that all APCs develop and sumbit an annual plan demonstrated cross agency partnership roles and responsibilities. Many of these concerns are addressed in either our state policy or in the APC plans. 

The clarity for programs in how to developm meaningful partnerships that address these concerns really comes from the state first in policy and PD / TA support. So, let's dive into the first concerns.

• The transferability and recognition of stackable, portable, industry-recognized credentials;

In Illinois, we provide targeted PD and TA as programs plan their IET programs and we provide guidance on how to ensure the student earns credentials that are stackable, portable, and industry recognized. It is critical that programs have support in their IET design to ensure the credentials are meaningful to students. 

• Federal policies and regulations such as training time limits and work participation requirements of TANF.

The development of IETs and career pathways instruction is determined (with appropriate TA) at the local level through the coordination and planning in the APCs. APC partners include all WIOA core partners. Additionally, at the local level, all programs have either a Career Navigator or Transition Coordinator to be the link between the student and the various social service organizations.

For our group, what concerns and questions do you have on these two points? What can I clarify? What ideas do you have for your state or program? 

Kathy Tracey 


Today, Advance CTE’s released the Practical Guidance for Aligning Career Pathways to Labor Market Data in the Time of COVID-19.  It is the first of three policy briefs designed to help build better career pathways, aligned to high-skill, high-wage and in-demand occupations. 

This tool can be helpful with the development of programs desinged to provide portable, industyr-recognized credentials. 

What are your thoughts after reveiwng this information? 

Kathy Tracey

Thanks for sharing this report, Kathy. On page 5, four emerging themes were mentioned:

  • Remain committed to using labor market data and making data-driven decisions.
  • Continue ongoing and regular engagement with key industry and workforce partners to enhance the data.
  • Be intentional about how labor market data is communicated.
  • Accelerate efforts to build critical foundational skills across career pathways and to develop career pathways in emerging sectors.

I am curious how adult education programs acquire and use LMI (labor market information) data. Do you get it by just looking it up online or do you work with your local workforce system (one-stop) partners to gather and analyze data to inform your programming? 

In Pennsylvania, some of our adult education programs use graphs and charts from our PA Workstats website in their adult basic education classes to teach math skills and help learners be more aware of local labor market needs and opportunities. Additionally, programs work with their local workforce development board, business service team representatives, and WIOA core partner staff to use additional local data to inform programming adjustments. 

Next week, we will also dive into data more with Casey from Florida, and I hope members of our community can share the types of data they collect to help inform programming decisions. 

We would like to welcome Casey Penn, Chief of Bureau of One Stop and Program Support for Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity. Florida was featured as a promising practice in the Career Pathways Toolkit Element 6: Measure System Change and Performance and Casey will share ways their state continues to work collaboratively with their WIOA partners to track and improve system performance. 



Here are the questions Casey will be addressing. Feel free to add additional questions.

Collecting the right data can be a crucial component in showing return on investment for career pathways programming. Can you share with us the different types of data that are collected and used to help determine the effectiveness of career pathways programming in your state?

Can you share some lessons learned when having multiple partners and agencies collect, manage, and use data related to career pathways programming?


Hi Chrissie, thank you for the opportunity to join the discussion. 

Collecting the right data can be a crucial component in showing return on investment for career pathways programming. Can you share with us the different types of data that are collected and used to help determine the effectiveness of career pathways programming in your state?

Through the PK-20 Education Data Warehouse, the Department of Education collects individual student record level data, and is capable of producing education reports, longitudinal education reports, and inferential statistical reports on student progress, academic achievement, and post-completion outcomes for all degree and non-degree program types. That the state is able to account for post-completion outcomes is owed to the fact that the Department of Education and the Department of Economic Opportunity have entered into a data share agreement to collect annual wage data. Reports can look across quarters that follow the reporting year of graduation and annualize the quarter with best wages. This enables rich tracking of outcomes aligned to our education system’s program offerings. In short, it helps begin to build a framework for return on investment.

For example, Florida just concluded a statewide audit of all its career and technical education programs. The methodology include the following workforce indicators:

  • Indicator of whether the program trained for an occupation on the statewide demand occupation list
  • Indicator of whether the program trained for an occupation on the regional demand occupation list
  • Indicator of whether the final program standard occupational code (SOC) was linked to an occupation that is expected to grow over the next 8 years
  • Indicator of whether the program trained for an occupation with middle to high wages
  • Indicator of whether the program trained for an area identified as an Enterprise Florida Targeted Sector

It also included specific, institutional indicators:

  • Percent of students taking a middle grades course who are found enrolled in CTE by 9th grade
  • Percent of students who earned an industry certification in a CTE course
  • Percent of students with program concentration at the K12 level
  • Graduation rate of students with a program concentration
  • Percent of students who were found in postsecondary or employment after high school
  • Average wage of CTE K12 concentrator graduates
  • Average entry wage of graduates taking a course in a program of study

For postsecondary institutional indicators:

  • Retention rate
  • Success rate
  • Job placement or continuation in education rate
  • Average wages for those found employed after completion


Can you share some lessons learned when having multiple partners and agencies collect, manage, and use data related to career pathways programming?

Data sharing across agencies is a difficult proposition. The biggest challenge we have is understanding the training relatedness of an academic or educational program. That is, we do not currently link the academic program to the particular occupation it may train for. We only can connect it to the broad occupational cluster. Enhancing the ability for us to link education programs to particular occupations will require changes to the unemployment insurance wage information, that is, requiring employers to add the occupation or job title. That aside, we also want to understand the career pathway’s likelihood to help students achieve economic self-sufficiency. In other words, while immediate entrance into the workforce is good, what concerns Florida is the pathway’s economic and social mobility potential. This will require improved data sharing across other agencies, such as Children and Family Services.

As a former middle school teacher, program and curriculum developer in K-12, and presently an adult education program coordinator, I'm rather surprised that people really might believe that a child in middle school will have a serious clue what career they'd like to pursue.  My personal philosophy of education does not include the idea that kids begin career training in 9th grade.  My experiences with students, my own children and my wide net of friends and colleagues has shown me that it is a very rare individual indeed who actually follows through with the same career that is considered as a pre-pubescent teen.  This sounds like people want to line kids up into the government desired occupations as early as possible and keep track of their progress toward that occupation.  Sounds Orwellian to me, personally.

Thank you to all the guest speakers and community members that participated in the Career Pathways Toolkit Deep Dive. Now that we have this knowledge, what will we do with it? What's next?

Here are a few ideas:

  • As adult education programs explore program adjustments due to COVID and labor market changes, refer back to this discussion thread and feel free to ask additional questions to the community. 
  • Use the resources in the toolkit for developing, implementing, and evaluating pre-apprenticeships, IET, and other accelerated programming. 
  • Attend upcoming LINCS live events and coffee talks to share programming ideas.
  • Use information from this discussion to guide professional development plans.
  • Share career pathways resources from LINCS with your workforce partners.