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Global Models of Career Pathways

How do we build more robust and equitable career pathways to prepare all our youth to thrive in work and life? This brief looks at lessons for today’s challenges as well as key trends for the future, and contextualizes them through domestic and international examples of successful career pathways systems.

Key messages from top-performing systems

Career pathways are tightly connected to national economic development strategies and goals.

Workforce development is seen as a national security issue, rising above party politics.

Credentials fully qualify students for entry-level work in well-paying jobs with career advancement opportunities and open pathways to further education.

Pathways are high quality and equitable, organized around national skills frameworks agreed upon by industry, labor, education, and government.

A future of work and learning focus means reimagining career pathways as part of a comprehensive lifelong learning system for all.

International and domestic examples


At Omnia Vocational School in Espoo, Finland, each program is a school-based business. Fashion design students research the latest fashion trends and produce elegant creations using state-of-the-art textile equipment. Aspiring builders construct their own full-sized cabins from the ground up, and sell them to families in the city in search of summer homes.


At Singapore’s Institute for Technical Education, young people train for work in retail in a real coffee shop with customers from the community. Auto mechanics train on new Mercedes and Nissan vehicles provided by those firms. Students at the Aerospace hub work on a Boeing airplane.

High school senior high tech

Vicksburg, MS

Vicksburg-Warren school district partnered with local businesses and community members to design new pathways to jobs that pay well in the local community. They created three career academies and an entrepreneurship pathway to incubate new student-initiated businesses with mentorship from community leaders.