Career Pathways

According to a WestEd 2018 study, “…career pathways represent a significant national educational reform movement supported by federal, state, and philanthropic funding . High school pathways combine career and technical education with rigorous academics, work-­‐based learning, and student supports to provide equitable access to post-secondary opportunities. Strong research evidence supports this specific combination of interventions as a means to interrupt the opportunity gap and address the underlying causes of disparate high school outcomes.”

A career pathway is not a program, but a systemic framework for a new way of doing business in our high schools, colleges, and communities.

Bay Area LEEDS has been a part of this high school transformation effort since the early federal School-to-Work movement in the 90’s, to the School-to-Career movement in California in the early 2000s. We participated in the recent $500 million California Career Pathways Trust effort, and now as the state focuses on Career Technical Education (CTE) through investments in regional California Career Technical Education Incentive Grants (CTEIG).

High school students don workplace garb and engage in a mock operating room experience at Mt. Diablo Adult Education’s Surgical Technologist Training Center. It can’t get more ‘real world’ than this!

A career pathway is not a program, but a systemic framework for a new way of doing business in our high schools, colleges, and communities. The ultimate goal is for pathways to provide a seamless system of career exploration, preparation, and skill upgrades linked to academic credits and credentials, available with multiple entry and exit points spanning middle school, high school, post-secondary institutions, adult education, and workplace education.

Career pathways are a critical economic development tool with a focus on the labor market demands of industry sectors that are important to the economy of the region. Employers must drive the development of the career pathways to ensure that students will have access to good jobs and advancement opportunities.

Regardless of the funding mechanisms utilized to create, strengthen and sustain career pathways, Bay Area LEEDS supports the successful ‘linked learning’ approach to education based on the idea that students work harder and dream bigger if their education is relevant to them. Students also respond enthusiastically to learning that is delivered through project-based learning, which is why we focus our career pathways support with schools implementing Project Lead The Way curriculum which is aligned to industry skills development.

Career Pathways are organized around industry-sector themes like Health & BioTech, Engineering, Computer Sciences, etc. The industry theme is informed through input from working professionals, and reinforced by work-based learning with real employers. This helps students answer the question, “Why do I need to learn this?”