In an increasingly global economy with new technologies evolving every day, a highly skilled workforce is more critical than ever to economic growth and shared prosperity.
However, more and more employers cannot find the skilled workers they need to grow their businesses, even amid high unemployment. This is because many adults in Minnesota lack the skills to succeed in high-demand, well-paying careers. As a result of this growing skills gap, Minnesota’s economy cannot reach its full potential.
Pathways to Prosperity seeks to make Minnesota more competitive by meeting the common skills needs of businesses and individuals.
The program's innovative approach helps educationally under-prepared adults succeed in well-paying careers by integrating basic skills education and career-specific training in fields where new skills are in high demand. By focusing on high-demand fields, Pathways meets the needs of business while ensuring that students find well-paying jobs with room for advancement.
Pathways to Prosperity is Changing Workforce Development
Pathways to Prosperity is a collaboration between a number of state, local, and national partners, and part of a broader career pathways movement. With a shared vision for success, Pathways partners are changing the way they do business to align limited resources towards meaningful long-term outcomes for adult learners.
To date, 88 percent of participants in Pathways credit-bearing integrated Adult Basic Education/post-secondary courses have successfully completed the integrated course.
Pathways to Prosperity's approach includes a number of innovations that have proven effective in improving educational outcomes for educationally under-prepared adults.
Integrating Basic Skills Education and Career Training
Many adults seeking career-specific training also need to build their basic academic skills. Pathways addresses both by teaming up Adult Basic Education and post-secondary career and technical instructors in the classroom. This allows students to learn basic skills like literacy and math in the context of their career interests, making learning more relevant. By starting with basic skills, MN FastTRAC is able to serve a broader array of students and ensure that they have the academic foundation to succeed in a post-secondary setting.
Focusing on Credentials and High-Demand Occupations
Pathways to Prosperity's mission is to ensure students receive a post-secondary credential valued by employers. Research shows that students who earn one year of post-secondary credits and a credential earn significantly higher wages.
Pathways targets high-demand occupations and tunes into the needs of local employers when implementing local programs. This means Pathways is an effective supply chain for local businesses who need skilled labor. It also ensures that students find a job at the end of their program.
Meeting the Needs of Working Learners
Pathways is tailored to adults who are managing many other responsibilities, from working full-time to raising a family. Programs make attaining a post-secondary education manageable by breaking up the educational journey into smaller steps that build off one another and each lead to a “stackable credential.” Working learners are able to move forward at their own pace while building practical on-the-job skills at each step. Along the way, Pathways programs offer intensive career and academic advising and support services like childcare and transportation.
The Skills Gap
Pathways to Prosperity takes aim at closing Minnesota’s growing skills gap.
A changing economy and new technologies have opened up a rift between the skills employers need and the current skills of Minnesotans. By 2018, it is projected that 70 percent of Minnesota jobs will require some education beyond high school. Yet today, less than 40 percent of working adults in Minnesota hold a post-secondary degree.
The skills gap is a jobs issue. At the national level, it is estimated that eliminating the skills gap would lower unemployment by 2.5 percent. There are nearly 4 million Americans who could return to work if they had the right training. Meanwhile, a significant percentage of businesses report moderate or serious skills shortages.
Providing Minnesotans with the right skills empowers them economically and helps businesses thrive. The overall result is a prosperous and competitive Minnesota that attracts new businesses and improves our quality of life. Now is the time for Minnesota to build on its long tradition of investing in the skills of its citizens.
Focus on Adults Already in the Workforce
Roughly 2 million adults in Minnesota lack a post-secondary credential of any kind. Training these individuals is essential to our long-term economic growth. Why? Because today’s workers will still make up more than two-thirds of the state’s workforce in 2035.
Programs like Pathways to Prosperity have a strong track record. Most post-secondary education programs are not designed with adult learners in mind, and as a result, many fail to achieve consistent, meaningful results for their students. Career pathways programs, on the other hand, have a clear mission and a strong track record serving adults.
To date, 88 percent of participants in Pathways to Prosperity's credit-bearing integrated Adult Basic Education/post-secondary courses have successfully completed the integrated course.
"I’ve accomplished more in eight months then I did in years. I thank the Health Care Pathways Program for helping me because I didn’t have money to go back to school. To everyone that has a dream and wants to be successful in life: don’t give up! I did it with working, going to school and taking care of two children. Coming from nothing and working hard for what makes you happy is just priceless. I’m so glad I stuck with this."
Martha passed her CNA state exam and is now working full time as a Nursing Assistant making $12.75 an hour. She is also attending Anoka Ramsey Community College working towards her RN degree. Martha loves school. She is no longer on MFIP and is happy she does not have to stress about turning in paperwork and searching for jobs. She says the Health Care Pathways Program gave her confidence and knowledge on how to go back to school.
"There was a point in my life I didn't know what direction to go and there weren't many resources for me. Now I have everything I need to be successful."
Antoinette earned a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certificate after one month of intensive, hands-on study at Inver Hills Community College. The CNA certificate will help Antoinette earn nearly double what someone would at a minimum-wage job in the medical field in Minnesota.
"Because I got the help I needed to learn English, now I can look for work and help my family. I have always worked for my living, now I have a chance to get a new job."
Tong completed a medical coding program at the Hubbs Center for Lifelong Learning while learning basic skills and improving her ability to speak, read, and write English. She is now preparing for the state certification exam.