Dear Educators,

As North Carolina undergoes the transformation from an economy based on manufacturing and agriculture to a complex service economy in competition with enterprises around the world, the importance of education to our continued prosperity is more important than ever before. For this reason, we are pleased to present Building Career Pathways, a guide for North Carolina educators to implementing our state's innovative career education system. Career pathways offer an approach to education that links what happens in the schools with opportunities in the real-world economy. Rather than simply preparing students for the next grade or for postsecondary education, pathways are designed to carry students through a planned series of educational experiences culminating in rewarding careers and independent adulthood.

These learning experiences combine core academic subjects taught in career contexts with out-of-classroom learning experiences—such as job shadowing, cooperative education, and internships—that engage students directly with the world of work. Preparation continues with postsecondary options such as two-year college, four-year college, the military, or on-the-job training. Student career plans are carefully crafted and frequently updated to guide all these activities and give students control of their economic destinies. By helping students make informed career plans, career pathway systems encourage students to prepare for occupations in which demand is greatest, as well as those that best fit their talents and interests. By making the most of individual talents and capabilities, career pathways not only increase students' chances for personal fulfillment, they help ensure that the North Carolina economy has qualified workers in the sectors that require them. The result is a flexible, competitive economy capable of responding quickly to changing markets.

We urge you to study the four steps for implementing career pathways outlined in Building Career Pathways. Examine as well the 53 career maps included for descriptions of actual pathways used in North Carolina. These program options, grouped under the 10 larger North Carolina career pathways, represent a full spectrum of workforce opportunities and the learning experiences needed to prepare students for each pathway. They are an invaluable resource for matching career education with student interests and the needs of the local, national, and world economies.

The information in this guide can help us all as we work together to transform education in North Carolina. By using these resources to build vital career pathway systems, we give our students the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the global economy.

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Building Career Pathways
(pdf, 2.3mb)