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Early Childhood Career Pathways

Author: Sharmila Lawrence
Publication Date: January 2017

States have begun to incorporate careers pathway programs into their workforce and professional development systems in order to strengthen and support the early childhood workforce. A career pathways approach offers career advancement through a progression of educational qualifications, training, and credentials that build on each other and are aligned with the needs of the industry. Additionally, the career pathways approach includes multiple entry and exit points to allow workforce members greater flexibility in acquiring skills and knowledge. While the terms career ladders, career lattices, and career pathways are often used interchangeably in the early care and education field, the Department of Labor's Career Pathways Toolkit differentiates between career ladders or lattices and career pathways defining career ladders or lattices as "a group of related jobs that may comprise a career. They often include a pictorial representation of job progression in a career as well as detailed descriptions of the jobs and the education and experiences that facilitate movement between jobs" (p. 135). Career pathways, in contrast, are more comprehensive and defined as "a combination of rigorous and high-quality education, training and other services..." (such as counseling and support services) that are aligned to support movement along a career ladder or lattice. Career pathways are specifically designed to meet the needs of diverse learners and non-traditional students. This research-to-policy resource list compiles publications from 2008 to the present on early childhood career pathways and career ladders or lattices. Resources are grouped under the following headings: 1) State workforce surveys, 2) Descriptions and considerations for developing early childhood career pathways, 3) State and city efforts to develop early childhood career pathways and career ladders or lattices, 4) Evaluations of early childhood career ladders or lattices. (author abstract)

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