According to the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor, career pathways can expand affordable options for secondary, post-secondary, and adult students and learners, as well as offer opportunity for youth and others facing individual or institutional barriers to employment. Career pathways refer to a combination of rigorous and high-quality education, training and other services that align with the skill needs of industries that are in demand.
The Organisation for Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that 36M low-skilled adults in the United States lack the foundational skills preventing them from moving forward both professionally and personally. Additionally, eight out of every ten of these adults are parents, many with children in public schools or young adults at community colleges as highlighted in OECD’s Time for the U.S. to Reskill report.
Creating career pathways and systems is important in any community, but it is particularly important in those areas where adults without postsecondary training or education lack access to programs that are structured paths to economic success and mobility. The ECMC Foundation, a national foundation that makes investments in postsecondary programs to improve educational outcomes among underserved populations, is supporting communities to overcome these challenges through the Minds That Move Us initiative; partners leading Minds That Move Us include the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), Coalition for Adult Basic Education (COABE) and the National Association for State Directors for Adult Education (NASDAE).
The Minds That Move Us partners are challenging communities to design innovative education and training models that create social equity and economic mobility for all. Driven by the market demands of business and industry as well as the needs of youth and adult learners, these challenges engage the bright minds of public/private partners to examine the current education and training gaps within their communities and then create models that can be scaled and replicated within various industries.
IEL President, Johan Uvin, said, "The Adult Career Pathway Design challenge aims to find teams around the country who will work together to design out-of-the-box solutions to pressing educational and economic challenges for the betterment of their communities."
The Adult Career Pathway Design challenge is open to communities across the United States, and encourages teams of educators, employers, community organizations, and adult students to create innovative solutions that address common barriers preventing adults 26 and over from entering, persisting and successfully completing career pathway programs. The top 10 entrants will be involved in multiple activities including a two-and-a-half day Design Camp to hear from subject matter experts about next generation career pathway design features and approaches that: 1) stack and aggregate learning experiences at various levels of education and industry credentials; 2) use prior learning assessments, competency-based assessments and/or micro-credentials; 3) provide academic and wrap-around supports; and 4) incorporate universal design principles to ensure adult learners with visible and invisible disabilities can benefit from programs. The top 10 entrants also receive ongoing coaching over three years to assist in designing their programs, culminating in a two-day Career Pathways Festival where teams pitch their programs to a distinguished panel of judges and a live, virtual audience including funders that may consider offering pre-commitments to provide implementation funding for ideas they want to support.
"We are looking forward to the innovations that will be developed in the Adult Career Pathway Design challenge, and to provide $100K each for three winners," said ECMC Foundation President Peter J. Taylor. "This initiative draws from the creativity of talented individuals, and we hope it will redefine how we think about career pathways in the postsecondary education field. It is also one where everyone will benefit and learn from all participating communities across the nation."
Applications for the Adult Career Pathway Design challenge are due Friday, June 29th. An informational webinar will be held on Friday, June 8th at 2pm EST. For more information, go to www.MindsThatMoveUs.org.
Since 1964, IEL has equipped leaders to work together across boundaries to build effective systems that prepare children, youth, and now adults for postsecondary education, careers, and citizenship. COABE represents more than 55,000 adult educators who organize efforts to advance national and international adult education and literacy opportunities for all persons. NASDAE advances the leadership of state staff in adult education throughout the states and territories so that every program will be of quality and excellence to increase literacy and prepare adults for success as contributing members of society through work, community and families.