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Overview

Oregon's Pathways Statewide Initiative, spearheaded by Governor Ted Kulongoski and Community College Commissioner Camille Preus in spring 2003, was launched through participation in the National Governor's Association (NGA) Pathways to Advancement Initiative and the inspiration of pioneering efforts at Portland Community College and Southwestern Oregon Community College.

At its heart, the Pathways Statewide Initiative is about innovation, collaboration, and leverage that is student-centered and demand-driven. Collectively, Oregon's 17 community colleges, in partnership with the state's high school Career & Technical Education (CTE) Network, Department of Education, Employment Department, Department of Human Services, and workforce investment boards, have articulated an Action Plan and lead multiple efforts across the education continuum advancing the mission of the Pathways Statewide Initiative:

Transform Oregon's education systems to focus on helping youth and adults attain degrees, certificates, and credentials that lead to demand occupations, increased wage gain, and lifelong learning.

Oregon's community college presidents are unified in their leadership and support of Career Pathways and, in May 2006, signed a "Resolution" giving voice to that support.

Leveraging Resources

Oregon provides a variety of incentives for community colleges to invest infrastructure and leverage local resources to build Career Pathways and move toward institutionalization of Career Pathways.

For the past four years, Oregon has received federal "Incentive Grant Award" funds for meeting performance for Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Title I, Carl Perkins Act, and WIA Title II. These funds were received from the US Department of Education, were administered by the US Department of Labor and were designated solely to build capacity for Career Pathways.

Leveraging both Incentive Grant Award funds and Strategic Reserve Funds in fall 2006, the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development launched a three-year "Adult Basic Skills Pathways Initiative," spearheaded by Kristen Kulongoski, Oregon's Adult Basic Skills Director. Adult Basic Skills Pathways curriculum is being developed and piloted in six community colleges in the coming year, with plans to roll out replicated models to all 17 community colleges in the following years.

In addition, the following sources of state funds have been used to build capacity and systems for Career Pathways across the education continuum over the past four years:

Regional Career & Technical Education Network (CTE) (Carl Perkins)

Department of Human Services "Degree Completion Initiative" (TANF)

Governor's Employer Workforce Training Fund (Oregon Workforce Investment Board)

Strategic Reserve Fund (State Board of Education General Fund)

In addition, individual colleges have received funding from local workforce investment boards, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the League of Innovation, and foundations, as well as significant leveraged community college General Fund contributions of faculty, staff, and existing services.

For the 2007-09 biennium, the governor and the Department of Community Colleges & Workforce Development are planning to continue to provide state funding through the General Fund budget as well as designating Carl Perkins and Workforce Investment Act funds. In May 2007 - for the fourth year in a row -Oregon was one of 10 states awarded Incentive Grant funds. These funds will be dedicated to continued implementation and institutionalization of Career Pathways efforts statewide.

Development of Career Pathways

In 1999, driven by the needs of local employers and workforce demand, Portland Community College and Mt. Hood Community College, in the metro region, and Southwestern Oregon Community College, on the southern coast, launched Career Pathways programs. These programs were funded by the local workforce investment board and the League of Innovation, respectively. Southwestern focused on information technology occupations, Portland Community College and Mt. Hood focused on entry-level health occupations.

As these models grew and matured, other pathways efforts emerged and began to gain traction. With the commitment to learn from each other and leverage each other's work, five community colleges - Portland, Mt. Hood, Southwestern, Linn-Benton, and Chemeketa - formed the "Oregon Pathways Alliance," a collaboration to build Career Pathways capacity at their institutions. In 2004, the Alliance was awarded funding to develop Career Pathways roadmaps and convene an Oregon Pathways Academy to build awareness about Career Pathways. Using these funds as leverage, the colleges developed career pathway "roadmaps" for 29 demand occupations. This process included working with faculty, department chairs, employers, Employer Advisory Committees, student services, and labor market data. This involved creating and offering "stepping stones" or "chunks" of degrees, such as certificates or credentials tied to jobs in demand in the local labor market.

The results were invigorating and successful and led other academic departments and colleges to launch similar efforts. The list of the 29 occupational roadmaps that were initially developed is included on this site, along with several sample roadmaps. The roadmaps' effectiveness is not on "paper" but on web-pages that link a student to the various layers of information. In addition, the colleges have identified the common elements that are included in Career Pathways roadmaps.

Career Pathways development of roadmaps has continued to expand and be incorporated into program development processes.  As Career Pathways as a program matured and cross-institution learning continued, it became clear to everyone that Career Pathways wasn't a "program," it was a "systemic framework" addressing the changing realities of student realities and demographics and employer needs in local communities.

In 2006, the Alliance received additional funding from the Governor's fund to continue building Career Pathways and increased college participation in the Alliance to 11 colleges.

In addition, the Oregon Pathways Alliance convened an Oregon Pathways Academy in June 2005 with all 17 community colleges sending a team as well as a team from state agencies. This Academy increased buy-in and understanding of Pathways and resulted in each community college developing a Pathways Action Plan. Oregon Pathways Academy II, held in April 2007, continued to build collaboration and facilitated learning, especially focusing on systems thinking and showcasing successful efforts with teams from all 17 community colleges comprised of K-12 and workforce partners as well as a team from state agencies.  At the Academy II, each college developed their Pathways Action Plan for the 2007-09 Biennium.

At the state level, the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development continues to advance statewide certificates and articulation agreements across institutions in a number of demand occupations, including: teacher preparation, manufacturing engineering, pre-engineering, retail management, apprenticeships, and healthcare.

President's Resolution 2010

Career Pathways in Oregon - History

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