In 2021, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) brought together 12 key stakeholders – practitioners, policymakers, and funders – to have a year-long dialogue about increasing equity within career pathway programs. One of the most powerful tools in achieving this goal is policy change. As America’s workforce development system is one where all layers – federal, state, and local – have an impact on programs, services, and outcomes, the team was committed to identifying areas for policy change at every level. The team embraced an expansive definition of policy that included statutory, administrative, and budgetary policy.
Together, this working group identified five specific policy areas that have the potential to increase equitable access to and outcomes in career pathway programs, detailed below. Our nation is currently in the midst of a period of historic investment in workforce development. Incorporating policy strategies that center equity as a part of career pathway work now provides a critical opportunity to strengthen this important work and orient ourselves, our communities, and our nation to a standard of equity.