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Federal Partnership Supports Career Pathways

June 30, 2016

One of LEAD Center’s priorities over the next year focuses on Promoting Inclusive Career Pathways that include youth and adults with disabilities and others who experience barriers to employment.

On April 28, 2016, 13 Federal agency leaders issued a joint “Dear Colleague” letter affirming their commitment “to promote career pathways to assist youth and adults with acquiring marketable skills and industry-recognized credentials through better alignment of education, training and employment, and human and social services among public agencies and with employers.” Career pathways, as defined in the letter, offer “an efficient and customer-centered approach to training and education by connecting the necessary adult basic education, occupational training, postsecondary education, career and academic advising, and supportive services for students to prepare for, obtain, and progress in a career.”

The letter also served to ensure that education, workforce development, and/or human and social service partners become aware of the Federal partners’ expectations for improved collaboration and coordination across programs and funding sources.

As noted in the Dear Colleague Letter, U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez launched a Skills Working Group in November 2014, which includes the White House National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, the Social Security Administration, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs.

The Skills Working Group coordinates activities across agencies, in part to ensure that career pathways are available to everyone. This current joint career pathways letter provides a summary of the six key elements in career pathways: to build cross-agency partnerships; identify industry sector and engage employers; design education and training programs; identify funding needs and sources; align policies and programs; and measure systems change and performance.

The April 28th letter also provides links to a wide variety of resources that have been developed by several of the partner agencies, including a Career Pathways Toolkit. Additional information on Federal career pathways initiatives can be found at, and on the websites of each Federal agency partner. Also, as noted in the lead article of this newsletter on Funding Opportunities, the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) grants, DEI projects are focused on increasing the capacity of American Job Centers (AJCs) and their partners through participation in career pathways systems, strengthening partnerships between the public workforce system and vocational rehabilitation, community colleges and other education, human service, and business partners.