DOL releases updated Career Pathways Toolkit

By Katie Spiker, December 07, 2015

On December 1, the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) released Training and Employment Notice (TEN) 17-15 on the release of the updated Career Pathways Toolkit: A Guide for System Development. The toolkit was developed in cooperation with Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Transportation and Energy.

In September of 2011, DOL released the first iteration of this resource, intended to serve as a technical assistance resource for states, local areas, and tribal entities on implementing and expanding career pathways.

The 2015 update reflects changes to the role of career pathways in the workforce development system since the passage and implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) and increased knowledge built by stakeholder experience with career pathways since the first version of the reference guide. National Skills Coalition Senior Policy Analyst Amanda Bergson-Shilcock was one of a group of Career Pathways Partners that provided feedback to DOL on the development of this revision. 

WIOA defines career pathways as aligning high-quality education, training and other services that enable an individual to be successful in advancing within an occupation or a career cluster. State workforce development boards are required to develop strategies to support the use of career pathways and local boards must lead efforts to implement and develop career pathways, including providing descriptions of these activities in local plans.

Career pathways are a required element under youth service strategies under Title I of WIOA and a required state leadership activity under Title II.

The DOL toolkit functions as a reference guide for entities engaged in creating career pathways, providing information organized into 6 elements of the creation process:

  1. Build cross-agency partnerships and clarify roles
  2. Identify industry sectors and engage employers
  3. Design education and training programs
  4. Identify funding needs and sources
  5. Align policies and programs
  6. Measure system change and performance

The Department of Labor encourages states to use this resource as they complete state plans and for local areas to utilize in creating their local plans. DOL also encourages members of the workforce development system to share the resource with their partners – community colleges, employers, adult basic education providers, and community based organizations – in an effort to impact more systemic adoption of a career pathways model.