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How Can Postsecondary Education and Training Programs Help Working Students Persist? Findings from Career Pathways Studies

Karen N. Gardiner, Abt Global


December 17, 2021

Millions of adults lack the postsecondary credentials needed to obtain jobs in the current economy. Challenges to credential attainment include limited information about education and training options and their outcomes; expenses related to enrollment and persistence; and the need to balance school with work responsibilities. Using data from three Administration for Children and Families-funded studies of programs adopting a career pathways framework, this brief summarizes efforts to help students overcome challenges to enrolling and persisting in school and earning credentials.

Examples of challenges and potential facilitators are:

  • Work schedules can deter enrollment and persistence in school; shortening the length of programs and providing flexibility in when and where courses are offered can help.
  • Participant challenges can affect persistence in school; program advisors can link students to an array of supports.
  • Even when students are working, their earnings might not cover costs associated with school, unexpected emergencies, and day-to-day living, with implications for persistence; programs can offer a range of financial supports.
  • Some participants might need to begin working after enrolling in school; programs can help connect students to jobs.