ACES and MCIS: Creating a Brighter Future Pathway

ACES and MCIS: Creating a Brighter Future Pathway

Sometimes, we all need a reality check. We need that person in our lives who will look at us and say, “No, that does not look good on you.” We need to be able to dream, but we also need tools to help us make informed decisions about whether or not our dreams are feasible.

This is perhaps seldom as important as when you are making career decisions and thinking about the path that you want your life to take. As Adult Education teachers, an important part of our job is helping students gain the skills and confidence that they need to explore and enter into new pathways. This often means helping students find tools for doing career exploration activities, such as interest inventories, career cluster research, and resume building.

As ABE teachers in Minnesota, we are lucky to have a very powerful, very affordable tool for doing these things – the Minnesota Career Information System (MCIS). MCIS is not a completely new tool. It has been used by high schools and other agencies for a while. There is a newly developed ABE version, however, that was designed with a lower reading level and the needs of ABE learners in mind. Although it is not free, the pricing is very affordable. Through the end of the pilot period, which is June 2019, ABE programs that serve up to 100 learners can buy an annual license for $100. The cost for programs that serve up to 1,000 learners is $200. Let’s talk about what that money buys you.

Reality Check

A favorite feature of MCIS is something called Reality Check. Reality Check allows students to choose an area of Minnesota in which to live, and then asks a list of comprehensive questions about what type of lifestyle is desired. It asks if you want to live in a house or apartment, for example. It also asks questions about transportation, entertainment expenses, and health care.

At the end, you are told how much money you need to earn in order to afford your desired lifestyle. Then MCIS helps you to start exploring the types of careers that would pay enough to cover your anticipated expenses. It’s easy to use and very informative. There are clear prompts to guide users through all of the questions, and the playful pictures add an element of fun that makes using the tool enjoyable.

Resume Creator

Another very useful feature of MCIS is the Resume Creator. This tool allows users to enter and save employment and educational history, and then use that information to create resumes that are tailored to different positions. More and more often, companies use computer programs to sift through resumes and applications that are submitted online in order to look for specific keywords and phrases. If those words and phrases do not appear in the application documents, then an applicant is much less likely to be chosen for an interview. This tool makes it easier to select the skills, education, and experience that most closely align with what each employer is looking for.

Developing a Future Pathway

Because it’s a great tool for doing personal and career exploration, MCIS is also a great resource to use with adult diploma students who need to do activities to support the development of skills within the Developing a Future Pathway section of the TIF (Transitions Integration Framework). MCIS has interest inventories and a personality profile tool to help with Skill 1 (evaluate personal skills, strengths, values, and beliefs). It has a career database with detailed information on over 500 occupations for working on Skill 2 (explore available options in order to identify one’s future pathway), and the resume creator tool is great for addressing Skill 3 (effectively complete the steps needed to enter into a selected pathway).

Need more information?

Support for programs wishing to try MCIS is provided by specialists at the Minnesota Department of Education. Questions about pricing can be directed to Deb Parkos ( and questions about training can be directed to Dorothy Wolf ( or Beth Haukebo ( For more ideas about using MCIS with adult learners to support the development of ACES skills, please consider attending the ABE Fall Regional session ACES and MCIS: Creating a Brighter Future Pathway. It is scheduled for the afternoon of Friday, October 26 in Bemidji and the afternoon of Friday, November 2 in Mankato.

Stephanie Sommers, ACES Coordinator ATLAS