This report for the U.S. Department of Labor summarizes 46 impact evaluations that focus on programs that embed elements of the career pathways approach. In the past decade, the career pathways approach to workforce development emerged as a promising strategy to promote long-term earnings advancement and self-sufficiency by helping workers attain in-demand postsecondary credentials. The approach involves a combination of rigorous and high-quality education, training, and other services to support participant success. The programs that are at the center of the 46 evaluations in this meta-analysis are diverse across a wide variety of dimensions—including what they offer, how they provide those offerings, who they serve, and their local contexts. Based on robust evidence, the meta-analysis reports the average impacts from these 46 evaluations, revealing that the career pathways approach leads to large educational progress gains, large gains in industry-specific employment, small gains in general employment, small gains in short-term earnings, and no meaningful gains in medium/longer-term earnings. Additional, exploratory analyses identify some factors that appear to associate with smaller or larger impacts in the evaluated programs.
February 1, 2022