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Pathways Are Coming Your Way

Saturday, September 14, 2019

In the June 2019 CTE Newsroom, we shared updates on the current J.P. Morgan Chase New Skills for Youth grant. We addressed how it is connected to ACP and how your regional schools, through your CESA, can begin to partner with economic, workforce development, and higher education entities in a new, regional way.

This month, we consider the “why.” In other words, what is the problem we are trying to solve with career pathways work? Put simply, Wisconsin wants to increase the number of high school students that complete a career pathway in high-skill, in-demand industries.

Career pathways have had many definitions in the last decade, depending on the audience and age of the student. For our K12 students, a career pathway provides a roadmap that makes the most of the junior and senior years of high school in order to transition from high school graduation to postsecondary training to a in-demand career.

Completing a career pathway benefits students by allowing them to take that first step on the career ladders that they will climb. It can help reduce debt by giving students a head start on college training and credit. At the same time, a pathway can help students figure out if the career is a good fit. Moreover, it can enhance the experience for students who just feel “stuck” until graduation.

Not all careers will be developed into pathways, and not all students will choose to be on a career pathway, as they continue to explore options. However, for those who know what they want to do and how they want to get there, a state-endorsed regional career pathway (SERCP) can act as a ready-made ACP plan. SERCP completion will include a school-defined sequence of courses, aligned to employer skills, as well as college credit that counts in a college program, earning an industry-recognized credential, and/or a work-based learning opportunity.

As a more robust Program of Study (POS), the SERCP is tailored to a region by a multi-stakeholder collaborative that is validated and supported by regional employers, which relieves a district from trying to create a pathway on its own. Furthermore, specific challenges to capacity, access, equity, and college entrance and persistence are all part of the approach that the region solves together.  

Current SERCPs in construction and nursing, with IT and manufacturing coming this fall, are now underway in the Madison, Milwaukee, Moraine Park, and Indianhead regions with over 45 school districts planning to offer at least one of these pathways in fall 2019.

Check out DPI’s Pathways Wisconsin page for more information.

AND don’t miss the 2019 ACP/Pathways Conference, which will feature practices and partnerships in pathway implementation.

—Submitted by Robin Kroyer-Kubicek, Education Consultant, Career Pathways, Career and Technical Education, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction