Giving Compass' Take:

• The Annie E. Casey Foundation's recent report called What Works for Adult Learners shares recommendations for policy leaders, educators, and employers on how to connect adult learners with opportunities. 

• What more are donors doing to create accessible employment pathways for adult learners? Are there adult learner programs in your community? 

• Read about this promise program for adult learners. 


While most jobs require some college or postsecondary training, nearly 23 million Americans older than age 25 lack a high school degree or equivalent credential.

The good news? Career pathway programs — which combine adult learning and job training — can help.

On average, career pathway participants are employed, retained and paid at higher rates than their similarly educated peers. Additionally, they acquire more credentials and college credits, according to What Works for Adult Learners, an Annie E. Casey Foundation-funded report.

What Works for Adult Learners shares recommendations for state policymakers, educational leaders, employers and others seeking to establish or expand similar programs. Advice includes:

  • equipping state system leaders and practitioners with advanced labor-market analyses so they can tailor their coursework and training options to satisfy employer needs;
  • using a federal provision — called “ability to benefit” — that provides financial aid to students who demonstrate competency to attend college despite not having a high school diploma;
  • leveraging local and national learning networks to identify and advance promising practices;
  • customizing integrated training for underrepresented adults, such as English-language learners, individuals returning from incarceration and those who are developmentally disabled;
  • redesigning career pathway programs to promote careers — not just entry-level job placements.

Read the full article about opportunities for adult learners at The Annie E. Casey Foundation.