Adult Career Pathways Resources

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“Minds On” Project-Based Learning in Adult Career Pathways: Designing Well-Balanced Career-Based Lessons for Low-Literacy English Language Learners

In project-based learning (PBL) students pose an important problem or issue, identify how to respond, and present results to a wider audience.  Using PBL in adult career pathway (ACP) courses can develop mastery of academic and occupational content, help master transitions skills, and promotes equity.  This PowerPoint slide set outlines the components of PBL as implemented in an ACP course, research about the effectiveness of PBL, and concrete examples of PBL used with low-literacy ELLs.

ABE and College Collaborations in Adult Career Pathways – Webinar

Second in a series of five 2019-20 Minnesota ABE webinars on adult career pathways.  MN Dept. of Education staff and ABE professionals from across the state share best practices, successful models, lessons learned, plus tools and resources for your use locally. (1.5 hours)

ABE-Workforce Partnerships for Adult Career Pathways Programming – Webinar Recording

Building relationships with WorkForce Center partners is crucial to successful adult career pathway programming. Hear about successes in the field from workforce and ABE professionals, and get what you need to take the next steps in your locality.

Ability to Benefit – Minnesota State Policy

Minnesota State (our community and technical college system) outlines its policies for undergraduate admissions, including Ability to Benefit and eligible career pathway programs. 

Ability to Benefit Issue Brief

Ability to Benefit (ATB) allows a student without a high school diploma or equivalency to receive Title IV student federal financial aid to pay for postsecondary education and training if they are enrolled in a Title IV eligible career pathway program that includes a contextualized adult education component and navigation support.  This two-page issue brief provides succinct guidance about ATB in career pathway programming, tips from the field, and a helpful list of additional resources.

ACP Program Development for Managers

Minnesota's ACP Program Development Cohort provides ABE managers with a facilitated, supported, year-long cohort as they work to create or strengthen a career pathway program in collaboration with WIOA partners in their localities. Key features include an experiential learning approach, a mix of face-to-face and online interaction and presentation, peer partners, coaching calls, goal-setting, and local action steps.

Adult Career Pathway Project Flow Chart – Example

This model flow chart helps all partners in the adult career pathway project understand the steps from ABE and the partner community and technical college that are planning the integrated college course to successful participant completion.

Adult Career Pathways Course Design Guidelines and Template

This document is intended to guide a systematic process of designing and documenting courses within an adult career pathway program (or for stand-alone courses related to preparation for a particular career).

Adult Career Pathways Curriculum Review Rubric

The rubric can be used by an ABE program to review/evaluate its own adult career pathways (ACP) course curricula and/or to review ACP curricula from other sources for potential use. It also provides a useful guideline for best practices in ACP course curriculum design.

Adult Career Pathways Glossary

Confused about Adult Career Pathways and transitions terminology? You're not alone! Check out this handy ACP glossary.

Articulate Your Learning Objectives

A simple 2-page guide with advice on articulating clear and learner-centered course objectives. Links within the document include a list of action verbs that is extremely helpful in defining what kind of learning and demonstration of that learning we expect upon completion of a lesson, unit or course.

Assessment – Example

This example of course objectives and the assessments used to measure them comes from a job preparation course for personal care assistant jobs.  Note the variety of assessment methods used and how each method matches the objective.

Backward Design

A useful 3-page summary of the what and why of backward design as an effective approach to designing a course, with a focus on the learning rather than the teaching.

Budgeting Guidelines for ACP Course Development

This document is intended to give those budgeting for curriculum development projects some guidance in the tasks, time, and accompanying compensation involved in this critical and complex work.

Building and Sustaining Effective Collaborations

This 7-page research brief summarizes findings from 24 studies and reports conducted around the country over 15 years regarding what makes collaborations succeed (and fail), and then describes the key strategies that have shown to be effective in sustaining collaborations over time.

Building Pathways to Success for Low-Skill Adult Students: Lessons for Community College Policy and Practice from a Longitudinal Student Tracking Study (The “Tipping Point” Research)

This report is based on a first-of-its-kind study of the progress and outcomes of low-skill adults in community colleges. Key findings: (1) Attending college for at least a year and earning a credential provides a substantial boost in earnings for adults who begin with a high school diploma or less.  (2) Short-term training, such as that often provided to welfare recipients, may help individuals get into the labor market, but it does not seem to help them advance beyond low-paying jobs.  (3) Neither adult basic skills education by itself nor a limited number of college-level courses provides much benefit in terms of earnings.

Building Strategic Partnerships Online Course

This online, self-directed course is intended for adult education program administrators interested in building new and strengthening existing partnerships essential for successful development and implementation of Adult Career Pathways programs and systems. (1 hour and 30 minutes)

Building Strong Enrollments – Guidelines & Examples plus Worksheet

A 7-step process that guides ABE programs and their partners to go beyond existing student populations and generic program flyers to instead be focused and strategic in building enrollments for adult career pathway programs.

Building Strong Enrollments: Recruitment & Marketing for Adult Career Pathways – Webinar

Fourth in a series of five 2019-20 Minnesota ABE webinars on adult career pathways.  MN Dept. of Education staff and ABE professionals from across the state share best practices, successful models, lessons learned, plus tools and resources for your use locally. (1.5 hours)

Career and Technical Education (CTE) Career Program Advisory Committee Handbook

This handbook was developed to guide CTE career programs in how to build and sustain a strong and active advisory committee. It can be a helpful resource for ABE in two ways – for use in your own collaboration with employers, and for tapping into your CTE partner's existing advisory committee employer relationships.

Career Path Graphics

These two-sided, colored, nicely designed and formatted graphic handouts are excellent examples of materials that illustrate the value of moving along a career path. Eight documents cover careers in construction, education, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, transportation, information technology and agriculture.

Career Pathways Checklist

This user-friendly 10-page checklist is designed to help determine the extent to which a newly developed or existing ACP program meets the requirements for career pathways as outlined in WIOA.

Career Pathways Toolkit: An Enhanced Guide and Workbook for System Development

Organized around six key elements of career pathways, each section includes resources and writable worksheets to help state and local ACP teams with implementation.  (Downloadable PDF available online)

Career Pathways Toolkit: Element Four – Identify Funding Needs and Sources

Element Four of the Toolkit provides useful guidance and tools to identify the costs associated with career pathway system and program development and operations; identify sources of funding available from partner agencies and related public and private resources and secure funding; and develop long-term sustainability plans with state or local partners.

Career Pathways Toolkit: Element One – Build Cross-Agency Partnerships & Clarify Roles

Element One of the Toolkit provides useful guidance and tools to engage cross-agency partners and employers; establish a shared vision, mission, goals and strategies; define the roles and responsibilities of all partners; and develop a work plan and/or memorandum or understanding for the partnership.

Career Pathways Toolkit: Element One – Build Cross-Agency Partnerships and Clarify Roles

Element One of the Toolkit provides useful guidance and tools to engage cross-agency partners and employers; establish a shared vision, mission, goals and strategies; define the roles and responsibilities of all partners; and develop a work plan and/or memorandum or understanding for the partnership.

Career Pathways Toolkit: Element Three – Design Education & Training Programs

Element Three of the Toolkit provides useful guidance and tools to ensure that career pathway courses promote the competencies required in the target career; utilize accelerated, contextualized learning strategies; provide flexible delivery methods; and integrate comprehensive support services.

Career Pathways Toolkit: Element Three – Design Education and Training Programs

Element Three of the Toolkit provides useful guidance and tools to identify target populations, choose recruitment strategies, provide flexible delivery models, and more.

Career Pathways Toolkit: Element Two – Identify Industry Sectors and Engage Employers

Element Two of the Toolkit provides useful guidance and tools to identify industry sectors; conduct labor market analysis; clarify role of employers in program development and operations; and sustain and expand business partnerships.

CareerForceMN Tools and Resources for ABE Professionals

This document covers important resources for ABE professionals contained on, our state’s career resource site.

Collaboration in ACPs: Co-teaching for Student Success!

Wondering about ways to collaborate and improve co-teaching with Adult Career Pathways (ACP)? Hear from MDE staff and ACP leaders around the state on this important topic. This recorded webinar provides current examples of successful ACP collaborative efforts big and small, as well as tools and resources to help move your ACP work forward.

College and Career Readiness: A Guide for Navigators

This guide identifies action steps that learners can take to achieve their college and career goals. The knowledge and skills outlined in it are specific and teachable.  The guide is divided into three sections: college readiness; career readiness; and the intersection of college and career readiness. Simple concept maps and readiness charts help navigators understand the skills and knowledge students need to attain in each area and help them communicate with students about the ways in which career and college planning should be jointly addressed.

Course Design Cycle

Provides a very useful graphic and brief explanation of a 5-stage course design process. Stages include: course learning outcomes, assessment, learning activities, alignment and syllabus, and analysis and action.

Designing Contextualized Instruction – Online Course

This 2.5-hour, self-paced course features three modules: (1) Understanding Contextualized Instruction (and the supporting research); (2) Building Contextualized Lessons; and (3) Overcoming Development Challenges.

Developing Effective Bridge Programs – Online Course

This 2.5-hour, self-paced course features three modules: (1) Understanding Bridge Programs; (2) Laying the Foundation; and (3) Developing the Curriculum.

Differing Types of Workplace Credentials

This 10-minute video from breaks down the differences among credentials, certification, certificates, and licenses. There is also a handout from that breaks down credentials, certification, certificates, and licenses, including how they are awarded, what they indicate, and several examples.

Distance Learning in Adult Career Pathways – Webinar

Fifth in a series of five 2019-20 Minnesota ABE webinars on adult career pathways. MN Department of Education staff and ABE professionals from across the state describe a variety of strategies for delivering adult career pathway (ACP) courses with distance or hybrid learning.

Employability Measures Chart

A useful one-page chart that assists a case manager or ABE staff person to assess a participant’s employability based on eleven factors – transportation, education, stability of housing, and more.

Employer Engagement Toolkit: From Placement to Partners

Use the entire toolkit as a package or select individual exercises, checklists, planning guides, or resources that are most relevant to you. Includes an assessment of current employer relationships; provides strategies for new employer outreach; and provides tools that connect employers directly to your ACP program.

Engaging Employers – Setting SMART Goals and Action Steps

This template, useful in any adult career pathways (ACP) program development work, guides a step-by-step process to define a goal appropriate for one’s own context for engaging employers in an ACP in new ways.

Engaging Employers in Adult Career Pathways – Making It Happen

This activity, used in an ACP Program Development cohort of program managers, guides a process of identifying potential roles for employers in adult career pathway (ACP) programs; assessing employer partnerships currently in place; seeing opportunities for expanding employer partnerships; and communicating effectively with employers.

Engaging Employers in Adult Career Pathways – Webinar

Third in a series of five 2019-20 Minnesota ABE webinars on adult career pathways.  MN Dept. of Education staff and ABE professionals from across the state share best practices, successful models, lessons learned, plus tools and resources for your use locally. (1.5 hours)

Engaging Employers in Adult Career Pathways – Webinar Recording

Hear from Minnesota ABE professionals and their employer partners about ways they collaborate, their challenges and successes. Understand the role of Career and Technical Education advisory committees and how ABE can get involved and connect with those employers. Gain strategies for effective employer outreach in your own context. (2018)

Engaging Employers in Adult Career Pathways Online Course

This 2-hour, self-paced course helps adult education instructors and program administrators understand how to identify, engage, and sustain engagement of appropriate employers in the development of career pathways programs.

Engaging Employers to Support Adult Career Pathways Programs

This 10-page issue brief offers practical strategies on engaging employers and building business-education partnerships to support ACP programs, and highlights promising examples from adult education providers in three states.

Enrollment Spreadsheets

These two spreadsheet templates with examples are helpful tools for meeting enrollment goals through shared effort of all adult career pathways (ACP) partner organizations, and for creating an enrollment plan that factors in realistic persistence/attrition rates at each step of the pathway program.

Finding True North – Role of the Navigator (training from World Education)

Navigators assist students as they explore college and career opportunities. This can be done formally or informally, by teachers, volunteers or other staff. Chances are, individuals doing this work never received any training on how to offer navigation services. Until now! This self-paced online course was created for college and career navigators by the National College Transition Network (NCTN) at World Education. It takes approximately 3 hours to complete.

Foundational Skills in the Service Sector

Across the US, millions of workers with limited reading, math, or digital problem-solving skills hold jobs across the service sector. This report offers a fresh analysis of rigorous data, painting a picture of the approximately 20 million American workers employed in key service-sector industries who lack foundational skills. It highlights promising practices and interventions used by U.S. employers to help their workers to upskill, and details key policy levers that can foster economic mobility for these workers. 

Funding Career Pathways

This resource is a federal funding toolkit for state and local/regional career pathway partnerships. The toolkit aims to help partnerships understand key components and tasks involved in developing, implementing, and maintaining career pathway programs; and identify how federal resources can support these key components and tasks.

Guide for MN Adult Basic Education Representatives to Local Workforce Development Boards

A brief, 7-page informal guide to the role of ABE representative to your local workforce development board. Sections include: how ABE fits in the work of LWDBs; roles and responsibilities of the ABE rep to the LWDB; strategies for effectively representing all ABE consortia in your locality; roles ABE reps take on their LWDBs; and more.

Healthcare ACP Promo Flyer – Example

An excellent example of a promotional flyer with key “benefit messages” to attract target participants; nice photos; a graphic explanation of the career pathways available; and clear next steps for anyone interested.

Learning Task Formats

View examples of learning task formats, which are routine structures for activities and tasks that provide practice of lesson content. Establishing consistent learning task formats creates predictability and a foundation for success for learners. Consistent learning task formats can also simplify instructor preparation of lessons.

LINCS Career Pathways Exchange

A free information service that consolidates and distributes career pathways-related resources, events, and information from federal and state agencies and partner organizations. The Exchange streamlines information from multiple outlets to facilitate a deeper national dialogue on career pathways systems development and implementation.

Local Workforce Development Plans – Worksheet

A useful 3-page guide for finding and analyzing key information in your lengthy Local Workforce Development Plan which should inform development of adult career pathway programming.

Making Adult Career Pathways Work for Your Students – Webinar

First in a series of five 2019-20 Minnesota ABE webinars on adult career pathways.  MN Dept. of Education staff and ABE professionals from across the state share the basics of ACPs, successful models, plus tools and resources for your use locally. (1.5 hours)

Minnesota ABE Comprehensive Career Pathways

A 13-slide PowerPoint with embedded audio that provides useful graphics and basic orientation to the what and why of adult career pathway programming and the role of ABE in these multi-partner efforts.

Minnesota ABE Content Standards

A helpful 2-page reference document provides an overview of ABE content standards: the College & Career Readiness Standards (CCRS), Northstar Digital Literacy Standards, and Transitions Integration Framework. These standards are the guide in setting learning objectives in any adult career pathway course.

Minnesota Adult Basic Education Program Finder

This overlay map allows you to display boundaries for any or all of the following: ABE consortia, ABE transitions regions, career and technical education, Perkins consortia, school district boundaries, Minnesota State school sites, workforce centers, and workforce development areas. A helpful tool in defining ACP program needs and identifying potential partners.

Minnesota Association of Workforce Boards (MAWB) Website

MAWB represents the cooperative efforts of 16 area workforce development boards across the state. The MAWB website is the go-to online source for regional and local workforce development board plans, WIOA resources, the Governor’s workforce development board, and much more.

Minnesota Career Pathways Network – Core Elements

A concise 2-page document that outlines core elements of career pathway programming. Also includes the WIOA definition of career pathways and useful graphics on the “tipping point” and on ABE’s role in pathway work.

Minnesota Employment & Training Flowchart

This flowchart summarizes basic federal, state and local funding streams and administrative authority related to employment and training.

Minnesota Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Template

The purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is to define the roles and responsibilities as mutually agreed by the parties for the operation of the One-Stop Service Delivery System in Local Workforce Development Area XX – NAME as required under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA).

Minnesota’s Workforce System

A useful 2-page overview WorkForce Centers, workforce development areas, roles of workforce development boards and elected officials, and functions of MWCA.

MN Dept. of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) – Competitive Grants

Postings include all outgoing grants and open-ended services. Each solicitation includes a brief description of work and a link to its Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Application (RFA). See especially Minnesota Job Skills Partnership grants.

MWCA Orientation Guide

A resource for Minnesota’s local workforce development boards, this 70-page guide provides an overview of the public workforce system, workforce development boards, information on legalities, and other useful reference material for ABE practitioners new to the workforce system and the role of regional and local workforce development boards.

National Career Pathways Network (NCPN)

NCPN is a membership organization for educators, employers and others involved in the advancement of Career Pathways, career technical education, and related education reform initiatives. NCPN assists its members in planning, implementing, evaluating, and improving secondary and postsecondary transition programs.

National College Transitions Network (NCTN)

NCTN’s purpose is to strengthen policy and practice that prepares nontraditional learners for college and careers. The NCTN website includes tools and resources, technical assistance and information on numerous professional development opportunities.

Perkins V Issue Brief

This article outlines the clear connections between The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) and The Adult Education & Family Literacy Act (WIOA Title II), providing succinct guidance about Perkins V, important issues to consider, questions to ask your Perkins V partners, tips from the field, and a helpful list of additional resources.  The implication is that efforts must be aligned between the career and technical education and adult education systems to provide on-ramps to postsecondary education and training for adult education populations; these pathways should be written into the Perkins V State Plans. 

Presenter Tips – English Language Learner Classes

Workforce partners may not have background in effective communication strategies with English language learners. These simple tips can be sent in advance of partners from workforce or other agencies coming to present information to an ELL class. Tips include “less is more,” write it down, use visuals and props, and several more useful ideas.

Q&A on the MOU, OSO, and IFA for ABE Representatives on the LWDBs

Response to questions regarding the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), One-Stop Operator (OSO), and Infrastructure Agreement (IFA). Includes definition of key terms and clarification of various other potentially confusing aspects of these three aspects of the joint work between ABE and the workforce system.

Referral Form WFC – ABE – Example 1

Establishing effective cross-referral systems is an essential and challenging aspect of adult basic education and workforce center partnerships. Once the system is in place, a form needs to be created in consultation with front-line staff that works for everyone involved. This simple one-page form has been used successfully in Mankato.

Referral Form WFC – ABE – Example 2

Establishing effective cross-referral systems is an essential and challenging aspect of adult basic education and workforce center partnerships. Once the system is in place, a form needs to be created in consultation with front-line staff that works for everyone involved. This cross-referral form from Albert Lea, MN, contains a bit more information.

Regional and Local Workforce Development Area MN Map

A useful color-coded reference map of Minnesota’s six Regional Workforce Development Areas and the smaller Local Workforce Development Areas within each region.

Sample MOU and Infrastructure Costs Toolkit

This Sample Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) from the federal level and accompanying Cost Allocation Analyses for hypothetical local areas may be used as a reference guide or toolkit when developing your own MOU.

School Districts as Employer Partners

Hear from a school district recruitment and retention manager about the value of partnering with ABE to fill positions like school bus driver and nutrition service workers in this 7-minute video.

Strategic Governance Reference Guide

Based on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). See especially Local Plan (p. 15) for the required core elements of the LWDA plan. Also includes a helpful list of acronyms and glossary of terms.

Understanding Your Role in a Team

This 56-item team role self-assessment exercise is an easy way to determine which of 8 team roles best fits your personality and operating style. A brief description of each type follows, including typical features, strengths, and allowable weaknesses. Understanding one’s role on a team can improve functioning in complex collaborative projects.

What Does the WIOA State Plan Mean to You?

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) State Plan is a required component of federal law for every state. This article explains its purpose and relevance to ABE practitioners.

WIOA Core Partners

This chart defines the basic purpose of Title I Adult & Dislocated Worker Program, Title I Youth Program, Title II Adult Basic Education, Title III Job Service, and Title IV Vocational Rehabilitation Services. In addition, it outlines the potential roles each can take in adult career pathway programs.

WIOA Definition of Career Pathways

A one-page easy reference that outlines the seven criteria for career pathways as described in WIOA regulations, along with further explanation of a few of the terms in the definition.

WIOA One-Stop Fact Sheet

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), signed into law in 2014, is the first legislative reform of the public workforce system in 15 years. This 2-page fact sheet outlines highlights of WIOA reforms for one-stop centers (which we most often call WorkForce Centers in Minnesota) and lists the 6 WIOA core programs.

WIOA Participant Performance Outcomes

All WIOA partners now share the same performance measures, which creates a significant incentive to collaborate to serve participants. This simple visual outlines the measurable skill gains, credential outcomes and labor market outcomes defined in WIOA regulations. A useful tool for discussion between ABE and workforce partners.

WIOA Titles I and II Mythbuster: WIOA Youth Program and Adult Education Can Be Used Together to Serve Disconnected Youth

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act’s (WIOA) Youth Formula Program (Title I) and the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA, Title II) prepare young adults for success in the 21st Century workforce.  This straightforward fact sheet explains how the two programs complement each other, share the same performance indicators, and can be leveraged to support successful career pathway programming.

Work Readiness and Work-Contextualized Curriculum

A compilation of various resources with hyperlinks to websites for work readiness curricula; work-contextualized English and basic skills curricula; and guidance in creating authentic, contextualized or embedded materials. (15 pages)

Work-Based Learning Toolkit

This online tool kit provides state and local program administrators with information regarding the key components of work-based learning (WBL), an instructional strategy that enhances classroom learning by connecting it to the workplace. It offers guidelines and resources related to creating a state WBL strategy, engaging employers, collecting data, and scaling effective programs. 

Workforce Brief: Adult Career Pathways

This is one of three innovative programming briefs created in collaboration with the Minnesota Association of Workforce Boards (MAWB), covering important workforce-oriented topics that are viewed as best practices for adult learners. The Adult Career Pathways brief includes a summary of what the practice includes, outlines their impact and benefit for adult learners, and spotlights a successful ABE program in the state leading these efforts.

WorkForce Center Contacts

Many entities are found under the WorkForce Center (WFC) or One-Stop roof. As you develop relationships at the WFC, this simple tool helps you keep track of the “ who – what – how” of it all. Record and update contact information in grids as you go along.

Workforce Center Required Partners

A useful 4-page document that will assist Adult Basic Education practitioners to understand the roles of WIOA partners and the services these partners can provide in adult career pathway programming. These 6 programs are considered “required partners” under WIOA and are usually housed within the WorkForce Center.

Workforce Collaborations Build a System of Supports for Immigrants

How can workforce development agencies and adult education programs work together to strengthen each other’s services to immigrant language learners? This 6-page fact sheet describes how community networks in three different parts of the country answered this question.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and the One-Stop Delivery System

This 47-page report provides details of WIOA Title I state formula program structure, services, allotment formulas, and performance accountability. Also provides a program overview for national grant programs, plus a brief overview of the Employment Service (ES), authorized by separate legislation but an integral part of the One-Stop system created by WIOA.

Writing a Syllabus

A brief 3-page overview with advice on best practices in writing a syllabus. A syllabus should be used in all adult career pathway courses as a way to communicate course plans and expectations to learners, and to familiarize them with the syllabus as a key document they will encounter in the post-secondary education setting.

Submit a Curriculum!

Do you have an Adult Career Pathways curriculum to submit for this library? Complete a Course Summary form and submit to ATLAS for review.

Curriculum Use and Sharing

NOTE: All curricula posted in this resource library are free for use and sharing under the following Creative Commons license:

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.