Harvard’s Graduate School of Education released a report last year challenging the focus on the four-year college pathway. Although 70 percent of high school students move on to college, what the University found was that fewer than half of those students actually earn a four-year college degree. What they felt students needed were alternatives — “additional pathways.” And so they started the Pathways to Prosperity Project.
Yet, Harvard wasn’t the only one who recognized that the one-size-fits-all approach wasn’t fitting every student, which is why six states have come together to start taking steps toward offering viable alternatives for students that go beyond the scope of attending a four-year school.
Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina and Tennessee will all be participating in the network, and will be working with the Pathways to Prosperity Project at Harvard, as well as Jobs for the Future, to connect employers with educators and policy makers, according to the Associated Press.
What researchers initially found is that while most jobs today require some higher education, just a third of those in the coming years aren’t expected to demand a bachelor’s degree or higher. An associate’s degree or occupational credential will soon hold just as much value, and the report’s authors encouraged the U.S. to put a greater emphasis on occupational instruction.
Harvard doctoral students and leaders from Jobs for the Future will begin visiting each state in the coalition to determine what the current workforce needs are and where there are post-secondary education gaps. From there, the Associated Press writes, they’ll “focus on building a system of pathways for high school students toward a post-secondary credential.”
Although the study’s been controversial — some fear this could result in students being sent down paths that could limit them later on — the program is one that sounds like it could benefit both the students and the states, as they’ll be given the help and, hopefully, the opportunity to enter the workforce.
Other states are expected to join the network in the weeks and months ahead, but Massachusetts’s Secretary of Education Paul Reville told the Associated Press, “We’re going to work in a more deliberate, concerted way than we have been on establishing career pathways.”