Nominate Innovators Building New Pathways from High School to Career

Nominate Innovators Building New Pathways from High School to Career

Published mar. 14, 2022

College has been an extraordinary pathway to the middle class for millions of young people. But increasingly, positioning college as the only path to success and as a marker of employability has actually become a barrier to economic mobility.

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Nominate innovative models helping high school students and graduates access great jobs with meaningful opportunities for economic advancement

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Increasingly, the high costs of college degrees and low college completion rates are leaving young people deeply in debt and ill-prepared for the jobs and careers they’re stepping into. Exacerbating this challenge is the persistent stigma around options for the journey from high school to career that fall outside of the traditional path that runs from four years of high school through four years of college.

When a four-year degree is our only proxy for knowledge and skills, we shut capable people out of jobs and limit the size of the talent pool that employers can tap. We also fail to take advantage of the full range of opportunities that exist within a vibrant training and education ecosystem that’s filled with dynamic, high-quality, and reliable programs and resources that lead to promising careers and opportunities for economic advancement.

From apprenticeships, coding boot camps, and short-term credentialing programs to early college and work-based learning in high school, young people have more opportunities to build in-demand skills and explore careers than ever before. These ever-expanding and ever-evolving avenues to exciting, fulfilling, and financially rewarding careers can save young people time and money—and help build a more equitable, diverse, resilient talent pipeline for employers.

Expanding today’s education-to-career pathways and building new pathways for the future will deliver a return on investment in the form of a stronger and more vibrant labor market. To fulfill JFF’s vision of building a society in which everyone has an opportunity for economic advancement, we must encourage young people to explore their options and give them the supports and resources they need to choose the pathways that are right for them.

It isn’t a radical shift to recognize that a four-year college degree isn’t the only pathway from high school to career—it’s reflective of developments and trends long underway throughout the education and workforce ecosystem. And it’s long overdue. Expanding education-to-career opportunities will contribute to a sustainable, resilient economy that propels us into a better future for families, businesses, and communities.

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That’s why, as part of a broader partnership with American Student Assistance, Jobs for the Future (JFF) is leading an effort to identify the most innovative programs and initiatives that are creating new education-to-career pathways and opportunities for young people.

This work builds on JFF’s expertise in identifying excellence in apprenticeship and work-based learning programs, sharing best practices across community college networks to make it possible for more students to earn postsecondary credentials, and pointing the way for new models that blur the boundaries between high school, college, and career. We’re thrilled that this new initiative offers us a chance to identify new, nontraditional approaches to opening avenues to economic advancement.

If you know of innovative programs or models that are helping high school students and graduates access great jobs with meaningful opportunities for economic advancement, please take 30 seconds to nominate them by completing our survey.

You can access the survey from now until 11:59pm Eastern time on Friday, March 18, 2022, at this Typeform link. We’ll review nominations and use them to build a map of this complex, fast-changing landscape, creating a resource that gives more students and their families access to equitable opportunities to pursue high-potential careers.

Thank you,