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One Step at a Time: Participant Perspectives on Career Pathways

Hannah Thomas, Abt Global


March 31, 2022

Career Pathways is a framework that combines education, occupational training, and support services to help program participants with low incomes enter and advance in a sequence of occupations within a sector or occupational cluster. This paper presents insights from in-depth, in-person interviews with 153 participants in 14 career pathways programs funded by the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) Program. Abt Global is evaluating the HPOG program. The paper found that:

  • Interviewees frequently focused on taking the immediate next step in their career pathway; many also had a clear sense of their long-term career ambitions.
  • Interviewees thinking about a next step on their career pathway faced a complex set of logistical and financial considerations and moved forward in ways that accommodated those considerations.
  • Interviewees persisted in their training for a variety of reasons, including to be a role model for their children, to earn more money, and to gain greater job satisfaction.
  • Increased self-confidence from completing one training course influenced interviewees’ self-reported interest in completing a subsequent course.

Guides—including interviewees’ HPOG case managers, instructors, and healthcare industry colleagues—offered advice about and examples of career pathways that influenced how interviewees navigated their career pathway.