Define Clear Career Pathways

It starts out with a retail management certificate but it is the catalyst for their entire future, especially if they've never gone to school. It starts with being at the job to pay for gas and go on dates and they're not ever considering that this might be a career path for them. Until they get tapped on the shoulder, get the RMC, get promoted, and now they're making more money than you can make in a career position with a bachelor's degree.

- Grant Staff

To make education more accessible and to attract more people to the retail industry, the RMC program needed to define clear career pathways. With clear pathways, students were able to map out, plan for, and accomplish their academic and career goals. The ACT-On colleges provided students with pathways by doing the following:

Revalidate and Align Retail Management Curriculum

Goal and Strategy

To attract more qualified workers to the retail industry and to make education more accessible, the grant helped to define clear career pathways by re-validating and aligning the curriculum. The process included engaging industry and education experts in intensive reviews of the existing curriculum to ensure that it was high quality, relevant, and matched the most current needs of the retail industry.

Key Findings

Sustainability

Allow Credit for Work Experience

Goal and Strategy

To accelerate education and training for students who have work experience, DOL encouraged colleges to provide college credit for knowledge gained through workplace experiences. Referred to as Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) and Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), this strategy has the potential to save certificate seekers time and money, and improve enrollment and completion rates for the colleges that accept them.

Key Findings

Sustainability

Although the grant's full intent of CPL/PLA strategy was not met during the grant period, most of the colleges acknowledged that the DOL requirement did push their colleges (and in some cases, state Departments of Education) to get the conversation started. By the end of the grant, most of the colleges were taking steps towards getting a standardized CPL/PLA in place.

Stack, Lattice, and Accelerate Credentials

Goal and Strategy

Creating a system of stacked and latticed credentials is essential to attract students to the retail industry and support their ability to succeed in college. Stackable credentials are a sequence of credentials that students can accumulate over time to enhance their qualifications. Portable and stackable credentials allow students to quickly achieve industry certification at a community college that can lead directly to employment or promotion, and improve the quality of the workforce in the retail industry.

Key Findings

Sustainability

Create Transfer and Articulation Opportunities

Goal and Strategy

This program intended to create opportunities for retail students to continue their education. In contrast to many other career-based programs, the RMC program requires that all of the classes be offered for credit. Students then have the option to pursue a two-year, four-year, and potentially even an advanced degree. To facilitate students’ opportunities, colleges were to create formal agreements known as articulation agreements with regional and online schools that offer appropriate programs for these students so that they could build on courses completed for the RMC program and continue their education.

Key Findings

Sustainability

MOUs remain in place and negotiations during the grant may support future efforts for the colleges.