Strengthening postsecondary education and workforce training can increase economic mobility and lead to better overall health in communities, research shows. This Spotlight shares resources designed to support schools and communities in enacting systemic changes so that every learner has the opportunity to thrive beyond secondary school. It explores a new initiative that aims to build partnerships that enable individuals, their families, and communities to thrive; whether taking a few community college courses is enough to earn a good living; and whether high school education and career planning programs facilitate successful transitions to the labor market.
Ensuring Opportunities for Economic Mobility
WestEd’s new Center for Economic Mobility partners with education and workforce systems to reduce or remove structural barriers in institutional processes, creating stronger social networks and offering career connections so that educators can create stronger and more equitable pathways to economic mobility.
“Education is an important step toward good jobs, but educational systems are often designed in a way that reinforces gaps for students from underrepresented communities,” said Randy Tillery, Director of Postsecondary Pathways and Career Mobility at WestEd. “By helping to change those systems so that they are more equitable, we are helping to ensure that they support diverse populations of adult learners in preparing for the jobs and careers that will not only allow them to support themselves and their families but also strengthen their communities and our society.”
The Center strengthens linkages between K–12, adult education, postsecondary, workforce development, and employers to foster access to postsecondary education, job training, and credentials that translate to successful careers with income stability and meaningful growth.
Can Skills-Builder Course-Taking Guarantee a Living Wage?
Skills-builders are those who enroll in and take a few community college courses to increase their value in the job market, allowing them to earn higher wages. But research shows that earning a college degree yields stronger earnings over the course of a lifetime. And new research from the University of Michigan finds that skills-builders may be able to increase their income, but not significantly so.
WestEd is working with the University of Michigan to document the people who engage in skills-builder course-taking, the kinds of courses and course sequences they complete, and how their economic gains vary by program of study.
New Research on Education and Career Planning in High School
Does education and career planning in high school help facilitate students’ transition to postsecondary education and the workforce? How do factors such as the cadence of planning sessions or whether a teacher or other adult is present impact a student’s transition?
A recent REL West study used student and counselor survey responses from a nationally representative longitudinal data set to examine the relationships between students’ participation in three core elements of education and career planning during high school and their application, course-taking, and enrollment behaviors associated with the transition to college.
One key finding: Developing an education and/or career plan in 9th grade alone, without adult support or yearly reviews, was not associated with submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, completing a college preparatory curriculum, applying to college, or enrolling in college.
Subscribe to the E-Bulletin
Stay informed about WestEd’s research, resources, services, events, and career opportunities by subscribing to our E-Bulletin. Our May 2023, Volume One issue explores how educators can support postsecondary and career success for all learners. Topics include the following:
- Creating Stronger and More Equitable Pathways to Economic Mobility
- Can You Make a Living Wage After Taking a Few Community College Classes?
- Aligning Career Pathways to Regional Labor Markets
- Increasing Opportunities for All Students to Succeed in College-Level Math
- Advancing Equity and Economic Mobility Through Career Education
- Work-Based Learning in Community Colleges
- Improving Postsecondary Education and Career Planning in High School