Students need alternatives to the four-year college track, including career pathways that include strong academics and technical education, concludes the 2011 Pathways to Prosperity report by Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. Now Harvard, Jobs for the Future and six states have launched the Pathways to Prosperity Network to focus on helping young people complete high school, earn a college credential with labor-market value and start a career, while leaving open the prospect of further education. Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, and Tennessee will develop career pathways.
Pathway systems will include:
Employers committed to providing learning opportunities at the workplace and supporting the transition of young people into the labor market;
Career pathways with clear structures, timelines, costs, and requirements linking and integrating high school and community college curricula and aligning both with labor market needs;
An early and sustained career information and advising system strong enough to help students and families make informed choices about educational career paths; and
Seventy percent of high school graduates enroll in college, but most students will not earn a four-year degree by the age of 25, notes Jobs for the Future. Even among college graduates, “as many as half may be unemployed or, more typically, underemployed” at 25. Employment and earnings are even worse for young people who never earned a college credential and still worse for high school dropouts.