The Connected Pathways initiative seeks to surface and visualize these much-needed flexible, affordable tracks to the middle class.
The Education Design Lab is engaging this work within the District of Columbia, an area of high need, and working directly with local students, educators, employers and hiring experts in hospitality.
To date, the work took us deep into the heart of a broader set of challenges: the “skills gap,” a revolution in learning pathways, the challenge of employer pipelines, and the ongoing discussion around on-the-job training and apprenticeships
During the early phases of the connected pathways challenge, conversations and pressure tests with key stakeholders helped the Lab identify the design criteria for pathways into the middle class through hospitality in DC.
Visible reflects the need for pathways to be clearly set as talent development and growth opportunities and pipelines, acknowledging that there is a connection between the employee’s engagement and a learner employee’s retention over time. Flexible describes the ability for a model to be applied across a wide range of learners seeking middle-class pathways into hospitality, while also (potentially) serving as a bridge between industries.
In building the set of model concepts, there were several questions the guided our exploration with students, hospitality hiring and talent experts, and educators: What combination of technical, professional, academic, and personal experiences prepares a student to excel in an entry-level position and progress? What do the employers need, and what opportunities are available to students?
For those with limited economic opportunities, educational training as a signal for investment in long-term growth not only increases retention for employers, but also offer pathways into the middle-class. For students who were unable to complete their degrees, these pathways, alongside the support from their employer and in concert with training providers, create opportunity for advancement.
As a result of our exploration, we looked towards faster tracks to associate and bachelor degrees. We considered what steps along the pathways might require academic credentials, and where an employee or student receive college credit for on the job training. Additionally, our work considered how employees prepare and signal for a role transition or promotion while contributing to degree requirements.