More than 50% of young Americans arrive in their mid-twenties without the skills and labor market credentials essential for success in today’s increasingly demanding economy. At the same time, public and private employers leave jobs unfilled for lack of suitable candidates.
In February 2011, Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) released the report, Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century, funded in part by the James Irvine Foundation. In response to the report, a number of states signaled their interest in forming the Pathways to Prosperity initiative.
Currently, Illinois is joining Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, and Tennessee for this great opportunity.
HGSE in partnership with Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national non-profit based in Boston, is in the process of visiting key regions in a number of states to assess their readiness to participate in the Pathways work. The initiative responds to the Report’s call for an intensive effort on the part of employers, educators, and government leaders to build pathways that link work and learning and are aligned with regional labor market demand. The goal is to help states build a system of career pathways that enable all young people to successfully transition from high school through a post-secondary credential to a high-skills, family-supporting career.
The purpose of the exercise is to begin a collaborative process to assess gaps, strengths, challenges and opportunities to be considered by the regional and state leadership teams and to serve as the foundation for the 12- to 18-month work plan the local collaborative will develop. This preliminary work will introduce the project to stakeholders, support the development of a local working group, and recruit additional local leaders, particularly employers, with the motivation, influence and resource “muscle” needed to implement the plans.
The mapping process is intended to tap local expertise, grow capacity and open doors for additional partner buy-in.
Pathways identified by the collaborative group include:
• Information Technology
• Health Science
• Transportation, Distribution & Logistics
• Research & Development
Pathways to Prosperity team (JFF/HGSE) is carrying out an assessment of two regional labor markets in Illinois: Aurora and Chicago. To begin this effort, a team of education and workforce professionals, in collaboration West Aurora School District 129, City of Aurora, Waubonsee Community College, the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce, and The Dunham Fund will undertake an asset mapping process. This process sets the stage for local collaboration to create stronger career pathways for an area’s young people by assessing gaps, strengths, challenges and opportunities to be considered by the regional and state leadership teams as they plan and begin to build pathways systems.
A team from JFF and HGSE are in Aurora currently to conduct an “asset mapping” process. In addition to gathering information about our region, we are scheduling interviews with key stakeholders — educators, employers, non-profit leaders and others. On behalf of the local team, we want to thank the many business and community leaders who are taking part in the process. Your input is invaluable.
The asset-mapping team will produce an 8-10 page report based on the interviews and a desk-based analysis of labor markets. This report will be the impetus for our region’s focus on creating a local Pathway to Prosperity for our community and its employers and workforce.
If you have questions or comments about this project, please contact the Aurora Chamber at (630) 256-3180.