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Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)

Career Pathways

Users can find information on Federal and State Career Pathways policy on this webpage as well as Adult and Community Learning Service's Workforce Innovation and Opportunity ACT (WIOA) webpage. For information on Career Pathways Collaborations, see Chapter 3 of the FY19-FY23 Massachusetts Policies for Effective Adult Education in Community Adult Learning Centers (CALCs) and Correctional Institutions (AECIs) . For the Indicators of Program Quality, see Program Quality webpage. For information on how the IPQs inform program quality reviews, see the FY2021 Program Quality Review Protocol.

Career pathways are developed and maintained through collaborations among workforce development partners, including AE providers, MassHire Workforce Boards, MassHire Career Centers, training providers, postsecondary education providers, employers, and other stakeholders. They include three essential features:

  1. Well-connected and transparent education, training, credentialing, and support services.

  2. Multiple entry points that enable students to enter the career pathway.

  3. Multiple exit points at successively higher levels leading to self- or family-supporting employment1.

Graphic showing three core features of a career pathway.

At the top, five red arrows pointing down right are spread across the page.  The first arrow states 'e.g., ABE, TANF, or workforce system.' The second arrow states 'e.g., high school or CTE.'  The third arrow states: 'e.g., military or civilian workplace.'  The fourth arrow states 'e.g., postsecondary system.'  The fifth arrow states 'e.g., apprenticeship.'

All five arrows point at a purple horizontal arrow that points toward the right side of the page.  At the base of the arrow and directly below the first red arrow, an oval states 'bridge(s).  Text at the top of the arrow states: 'Increasing skills, competencies and credentials informed by industry/employers.'

Below the purple arrow, 4 maroon arrows pointing down right at four blue ovals.  The first arrow (below the base of the 'bridge(s)' oval in the purple arrow above), text that states 'e.g., license, industry credential.'  This arrow points to a blue oval that has text that states: '1st Job in Career Path.'  Text in the second arrow states 'e.g., certificate, diploma.'  This arrow points to a blue oval that has text that states: '2nd Job in Career Path.'  Text in the third arrow states 'e.g., 2-year degree.'  This arrow points to a blue oval that has text that states '3rd Job in Career Path.'  Text in the fourth arrow states 'e.g., 4-year degree.'  This arrow points to a blue oval that has text that states 'Nth Job in Career path.'
  • Career Pathways in Massachusetts Adult Education Programs

    In addition to providing the necessary academic instruction and preparation of shared customers and collaborating with local workforce partners on career pathways, Adult Education programs can offer a range of career pathways services, including integrating career awareness, career exploration, career immersion, and workforce preparation activities into curricula.

    Career Awareness
    Career awareness experiences help students learn about the types of businesses and organizations that exist in the local, regional, and national economy, the occupations of the people who work in those businesses and organizations, the educational steps needed to prepare for desired careers, and the ways that people shape their career paths. This includes but is not limited to learning about trends in the labor market and jobs that are in demand in a range of occupations and industries.

    Career Exploration
    Career exploration experiences help students learn about specific career options through activities such as workshops or integration of career exploration activities into classes, opportunities to "job shadow" in areas of interest, informational interviews with local professionals, and career-related research projects.

    Career ImmersionCareer immersion experiences provide opportunities for students to participate directly in career-related activities. Such experiences include but are not limited to internships, capstone projects focused on areas of interest, and community-based volunteer work.

    For more information on career awareness, career exploration, and career immersion, see Guide to Career Development Education in Massachusetts, Version 2.0.

    Workforce Preparation Activities
    WIOA requires all programs to integrate workforce preparation activities in curriculum and instruction at all levels in order to teach employability skills and prepare students for college and career pathways. The term "workforce preparation activities" means: "activities, programs, or services designed to help an individual acquire a combination of basic academic skills, critical thinking skills, digital literacy skills, and self-management skills, including competencies in utilizing resources, using information, working with others, understanding systems, and obtaining skills necessary for successful transition into and completion of postsecondary education or training, or employment."2

    Bridge Services
    AE programs offer bridge classes that help students transition from adult education to employment, postsecondary education, or job training. The focus of bridge classes varies, but may include ACCUPLACER preparation and college writing or math classes. These services can also be integrated into pre-ASE, ASE, and ESOL services.

  • Professional Development

  • Resources

1 Center for Law and Social Policy (2014). Shared Vision, Strong Systems Framework Version 1.0.

2 Integrating Technology in WIOA , Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (2015)

Last Updated: August 1, 2022

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