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Career Pathways Research Portfolio

Project Overview

Career pathways programs connect education, training, and related supports in a pathway that is intended to lead to employment in a specific sector or occupation or to further training. The approach is gaining attention as a promising strategy to improve post-secondary education and training outcomes for low-income and low-skilled adults.

Career pathways are designed to allow entries, exits, and re-entries at each step—depending on skill levels and prior training, employment, and changing personal situations. Each step is designed to incorporate four core program strategies:

  • Assessments of skills and needs;
  • Promising and innovative approaches to basic skills instruction and occupational training;
  • Academic and non-academic supports to promote success; and
  • Approaches for connecting students with career-track employment opportunities.

Although there is some research evidence on selected components of career pathways programs, OPRE’s portfolio of research on career pathways represents the first rigorous research on the overall effectiveness of this approach. Beginning in 2007, with the launch of the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) project, and continuing with the evaluations of the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) Program, ACF has developed a robust portfolio of research on the career pathways approach. In addition, OPRE led an Employment Sectors Analysis project to identify promising occupations that can be attained with without a four-year college degree.


Data collected during the PACE evaluation, HPOG Impact Study, and HPOG National Implementation Evaluation have been archived for secondary analysis with the Inter-university Consortium on Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan. OPRE’s Archived Data page has more information on these and other data available for secondary analysis.

Visit for more information on OPRE’s Career Pathways Research Portfolio.

The points of contact are Hilary Bruck, Nicole Constance, Amelia Popham, Lauren Deutsch, and Lisa Zingman.

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