Pathways to Careers
A Guide to Building Partnerships for Workforce Education and Training

Message and Outreach

Create and believe in a vision that will be supported!

- Gail O'Keefe, Director of Workforce Development, Connecticut Community College

Community-wide commitment to the goals of the partnership is essential to developing successful career pathways. Teams need to develop an outreach and communications plan early in the planning process because a clear, succinct, and coordinated message can build community awareness of and support for the initiative. It also can help recruit additional partners and inform community residents about career opportunities and pathways.

The stories below illustrate some lessons learned about developing a message and outreach plan by the community teams that participated in the Strategic Partnerships for a Competitive Workforce (SPCW) initiatives, a joint project of the U.S. departments of Education and Labor. Teams attended one of several institutes to receive technical assistance in partnership development, strategic planning, and implementation of career pathways. The stories also include advice from project consultants who work with partnerships on message and outreach.

At the end of this section is a list of resources that are either referenced in the text or related to the lessons learned. Each resource includes a brief description and URL.

Lessons Learned

Brand the Partnership

A name, a logo, and a mission-each of these helps create a public image for a community partnership. Teams that brand their partnership develop an identity that reflects their goals and communicates their message.

The Cullman (Ala.) partnership wanted their message to reflect their commitment to being industry-led and industry-focused. Because its career pathways initiative was spreading well beyond the initial team, it needed an image that would resonate with area industry leaders, educators, workers, parents, and students. The team decided to call themselves Cullman Area Workforce Solutions (CAWS).

The CAWS partnership is moving aggressively to make itself known as a force in workforce development in the Cullman area. The partnership is marketing its goals and accomplishments, including developing a Web site (see Resources) and a resource and training manual for employers (see Resources), listing educational providers with program descriptions and contact information. It has developed a glossy insert (see Cullman Area Workforce Solutions Newspaper Tab in Resources) for the local newspaper highlighting local manufacturers and identifying employment opportunities in high-growth fields; three more inserts are planned for the coming year.

Create a Communication Strategy

Often included in strategic plans, a communication strategy takes advantage of partner resources to spread the message of workforce development through career pathways to the community. "The biggest challenge we have is not educating the workforce, but marketing," said project consultant Brad Hunt, senior associate with WHY Group, LLC. For the San Antonio (Texas) team, the communication challenge means getting adults and students to choose careers in manufacturing.

The team plans to adapt two national public awareness campaigns, Dream It, Do It (see Resources), run by the National Association of Manufacturers, and Make It! (see Resources), sponsored by Manufacturing Technology of Minnesota. Both campaigns are designed to raise awareness among youth and adults of jobs in the manufacturing sector. Practical steps can vary from using traditional media placements to some non-traditional approaches. The San Antonio Manufacturing Technology Academy, a local dual-credit high school program, plans to run ads about careers in manufacturing, aimed at 16-24 year-olds, in local movie theaters.

Create Maps to Illustrate Career Pathways

Many partnerships create visual representations, or maps of their career pathways. Once it has been validated by local employers, a graphic depiction of a career pathway can be used to assess the completeness of the pathway, explain the pathway to employers and other potential partners, and recruit students, out-of-school youth, and adults for education in high-growth careers. For example, by developing a visual depiction of its career pathway, the Southeast Minnesota team was able to identify gaps in the pathway and further refine it. It developed a pharmacy technician program and a patient care associate program, both of which require nursing skills and computer training, to fill gaps in the pathway.

The team uses the refined map to show current and potential partners where they fit into the health care career pathway. For example, when talking to health care providers and employees, they use the map to show the path from the certified nursing assistant (CNA) position to becoming a physician. Team members Julia Bronner, dean of academic affairs at the college, and Becky Thofson, area manager of Workforce Development, Inc., explain that they can use the map to show employees that they don't have to jump immediately into a four-year degree program to pursue a health care career. The Southeast Minnesota team also plans to use the pathway map with incumbent workers who seek career counseling through the local One-Stop. Career counselors will coach employees weekly and use the map to explain their education and training options.

Southeast Minnesota employers also find the career pathway map helpful. It illustrates the importance of employee retention, shows the options available to CNAs, and encourages employees to pursue additional schooling. One employer has posted the career pathway map in its break room and in the elevator.

For more information on career pathways, go to "Connecting With the Broader Education Community."

Use Data to Support the Message

An effective outreach plan uses economic and labor market data to document the need for career pathways. The team from Waukesha County (Wis.) uses data to help communicate the importance of their career pathways work to others. A white paper developed to explain the need for workforce development in the health care industry begins by citing state labor forecasts for more than 10,000 health care jobs every year for the next 10 years. A chart showing anticipated shortfalls in the number of credentialed registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, and medical assistants illustrates the critical need in Waukesha County to recruit, train, retain, and offer advancement opportunities for health care workers. "What's happening now is that a lot more people are looking at data," said Margaret Brown of Waukesha Community College, "so we've learned to package it differently." For the team, this has meant sharing the data with the transition counselor at the high school, participants at a health care career outreach meeting, and nursing faculty.

For more information on using data, go to "Using Data to Drive Partnership Activities and Meet Objectives."

Develop or Adapt Promotional Materials

To educate a community about the partnership and career pathways or other workforce development initiatives, partnerships should develop promotional materials to distribute widely throughout the community, to education institutions, One-Stops, social service agencies, and other organizations.

Promote the partnership

To create momentum for career pathways, the team from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) is working to inform the community about the partnership between Broward Community College and the Marine Industry Association of South Florida. It has created some brochures and is also working to create more detailed materials, such as cards for public display racks and DVD "infomercials." The team presented its promotional materials to the local Chamber of Commerce to educate its members about the pathways initiative, with the ultimate goal of recruiting a Chamber representative to the team. The team is also designing a Web site and producing radio and television ads to publicize the marine industry pathway more widely.

Market career opportunities to students, out-of-school youths, and adults

Partners for a Healthy Community (PHC) in Central Florida is developing a series of promotional campaigns focused on nursing and allied health careers. The partnership also is looking at ways to address clinical capacity issues by studying existing clinical placement programs. Rather than starting from scratch, it plans to adapt promotional materials and review clinical placement systems from organizations in other communities. Some of the materials (see Resources) under consideration include:

  • Nurse Educator Recruitment Campaign
  • Men in Nursing
  • Caring Is Diverse
  • Centralized Clinical Placements for Nursing Students: A Review of Existing Models and Considerations for Massachusetts
  • Clinical Placement Program
  • The Centralized Clinical Placement System

Partners for a Health Community also has developed a series of health care career flyers (see Resources) that are distributed at community events, including "discovery sessions" held at area One-Stops. These sessions, held three times a month, provide people participating in the One-Stop's career enhancement program with information on careers in health care and other high-growth industries. According to the director of the partnership, the goal is "to get the word out there about the training and jobs that are available." The partners also have plans to open the sessions to all One-Stop customers in the future.

Noting that many students currently enrolled in health care occupations education are older, the team from Waukesha (Wis.) decided to target their outreach efforts to high school youth. "We want to try to plant seeds among younger individuals who are still in high school, before they enter college or the labor market and begin to think about careers," said Margaret Brown. The team has met with tech prep councils in local school districts to discuss how to promote health care career pathways in high school. It has worked with district personnel to develop dual-enrollment opportunities, so that high school students interested in the health professions can receive credit concurrently toward a high school diploma and a college degree. Next, the team wants to expand its outreach efforts to parents, to prepare them to discuss health care career options with their children. The team wants to develop a Web site for parents and students that shares information about health care job openings, educational opportunities, and a comprehensive view of career pathways in the health professions in Waukesha County.


Caring Is Diverse

Oregon Center for Nursing (OCN), n.d.
"Caring Knows No Boundaries" poster designed to encourage diversity in the nursing field. Part of a larger recruitment campaign run by OCN to alleviate the statewide nursing shortage.

Centralized Clinical Placements for Nursing Students: A Review of Existing Models and Considerations for Massachusetts

Tobin Communications and Farley Associates, Inc. for the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, 2005
Examines the centralized clinical placement model for nursing education programs in Massachusetts, which helps programs coordinate clinical placements for their students in a more organized and less time-consuming way. Reviews similar models at four sites in California and Oregon, analyzes their commonalities, and summarizes results of a focus group of educators and employers in the field.
Download/View PDF (292kb)

The Centralized Clinical Placement System (CCPS)

The Bay Area Nursing Resource Center, n.d.
Example of an online, centralized clinical placement program, which serves as the single coordinating body for nursing education clinical placements in nine counties in the San Francisco Bay area. Users can request placements, approve placements, and print schedules. The CCPS Web site also provides user and operating manuals, a checklist, and tips for getting started with the system.

Chicago Advanced Manufacturing Training Alliance Career Pathway for Production Workers

Davis Jenkins, University of Illinois at Chicago, n.d.
Illustrates a career pathway for production workers, starting with laborer jobs and ending with technical supervisor/sales positions. Also provides sample job titles, wages, and qualifications by job level and program requirements, content, and goals by program level.
Download/View PDF (86kb)

Clinical Placement Program

Oregon Center for Nursing, n.d.
A brief description on Web site of Oregon's clinical placement program for nursing students, including the program's mission, advantages, accomplishments, and expansion goals.

Cullman Area Workforce Solutions (CAWS)

Web site designed and maintained by CAWS, an industry-driven partnership supporting career pathways development and implementation in Cullman, Ala. Web site is still under development and will include information for job seekers, parents, and students. Currently includes background information on CAWS and a discussion forum.

Cullman Area Workforce Solutions Newspaper Tab

Cullman Area Workforce Solutions (CAWS), 2007
Designed by a regional partnership in Cullman, Ala., to market career pathways and job opportunities in a variety of industries, as well as training programs at the local community college. Runs quarterly as an insert in the local newspaper. Download/View PDF (1.17mb)

Cullman Area Workforce Solutions Resource and Training Manual

Cullman Area Workforce Solutions (CAWS), 2007
Comprehensive manual of career-related information for Cullman, Ala., including job opportunities, career training, adult education programs, postsecondary educational institutions, and more. Designed for businesses, job seekers, and incumbent workers.
Download/View PDF (4.28mb)

Developing Career Pathways in Healthcare for Waukesha County: A Strategic Partnership

Waukesha County Strategic Partnership, 2007
White paper developed by the SPCW team from Waukesha County (WI) that analyzes data on the local health care workforce and reviews the partnership's career pathways development activities. Presents employment data, including projected needs and shortages through 2014, and concludes that demand for qualified health care workers exceeds the region's capacity to recruit and train enough employees. Describes the partnership's mission, vision, and strategy for implementing career pathways as a solution.
Download/View PDF (75kb)

Dream It, Do It

National Association of Manufacturers and the Manufacturing Institute, n.d.
National advertising campaign developed to encourage young adults to pursue careers in manufacturing. Web site features sample print, radio, and online ads based on conversations with high school students about careers. It includes the online Career Tool-Kit, designed to challenge students to connect their personal passions with jobs through such tools and resources as the dream career quiz, career calculator, internship search, career profiles, and more.

Healthcare Career Flyers

Partners for a Healthy Community (PHC), 2007
Ten downloadable flyers about high-demand careers in health care, such as cardiovascular technology, dental hygiene, radiography, registered nursing, and others. Presents career-related information, including typical job descriptions and median salaries.

Healthcare Career Pathways

Workforce Strategy Center, MPR Associates, Inc., and DTI Associates, Inc. for the Strategic Partnerships for a Competitive Workforce (SPCW) Institutes, 2006
Illustrates health care career pathways in patient care, medical administration, and allied health. Shows job opportunities available by education level (e.g., GED, GED/Associate's, Associate's, and Bachelor's degrees).
Download/View PDF (53kb)

Make It! (in Manufacturing Technology)

Manufacturing Technology of Minnesota
Statewide advertising campaign in Minnesota to educate residents about careers in manufacturing technology. "Make It" refers to hands-on jobs and the opportunity to "make" a career in the industry. Web site contains information for job seekers, educators, and businesses about activities such as classroom-speaker and job-shadowing programs and career fairs; and provides descriptions of several careers in manufacturing technology.

Men in Nursing

Oregon Center for Nursing (OCN), 2007
"Are you Man Enough for Nursing?" poster designed to encourage men to pursue careers in nursing. Part of a larger recruitment campaign run by OCN to alleviate the statewide nursing shortage.

Navigate Your Career

Broward County Community College, 2007
Brochure on the associate degree program in Marine Engineering Management.
Download/View PDF (1.7mb)

Nurse Educator Recruitment Campaign

Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow, n.d.
Four downloadable, color-print advertisements for recruiting nurse educators to teach in nursing education programs and at clinical sites. Campaign responds to a critical need to increase the health care workforce by recruiting new faculty and includes a downloadable recruitment flyer, profiles of nurse educators, and "ready to run" articles that can be adapted for various publications.

Take the Helm and Navigate Your Career

Broward County Community College, 2007
Advertisement for the Marine Engineering Management Program at Broward County Community College. Includes an information request form.
Download/View PDF (502kb)

Department of Education logo

This represents a major section of Pathways to Careers: A Guide to Building Partnerships for Workforce Education and Training, a document that reports on activities connected with an initiative jointly sponsored by the U.S. departments of Education and Labor (the Strategic Partnerships for a Competitive Workforce initiative). It was produced under U.S. Department of Education Contract No. ED-04-CO-0121/0001 with MPR Associates. Jessica Reed served as the contracting officer's representative. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of the departments of Education or Labor. No official endorsement by the departments of Education or Labor of any product, commodity, service or enterprise mentioned in this publication is intended or should be inferred. Further, the inclusion of URLs is a convenience to the reader; it does not imply endorsement by the departments of Education and Labor of either the information presented on these Web sites or of the organizations that sponsor them. All URLs were last accessed on June 16, 2008.

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Last Modified: 05/11/2009