Career Pathways

In Colorado, industry-driven career pathways ensure that education, training, and workforce systems stay deeply attuned and responsive to the needs of the labor market, preparing students and workers with the skills and credentials they need for jobs and careers.

Colorado’s Career Pathways Framework

The Colorado Workforce Development Council has worked with partners to develop a comprehensive career pathways framework. This framework defines what a career pathway is and shares the knowledge necessary for you to get involved with this work as an employer, career navigator, service provider, or job seeker.

Meeting Regional Talent Demand Through Regional, Industry-led Career Pathways Systems Building

  1. Organize business through sector strategies or connect with an existing sector partnership.
  2. Organize a team of public partners
  3. Identify critical occupations
  4. Inventory relevant education, training, and workforce programs
  5. Understand critical competencies required to effectively perform the job.
  6. Align, improve, and create career pathway programs that prepare students and job seekers with critical competencies.
  7. Create a picture of the career pathway and market it to all audiences.
  8. Continuous improvement

Goal: To establish regional demand and then create supply to meet that demand. 

Keep in mind: Important to do all steps in order. It can take time to move from one step to the next.  

Results or outputs: Pathways that didn’t exist are created. Pathways already in existence are improved. Business has access to appropriately skilled talent pipeline. Individuals have access to the education, training, and work experience needed to enter careers.  

What is a career pathway system?

A career pathway system aligns public partners and engages them in a continuous conversation that is led by industry to ensure that job-seekers and students move seamlessly through and among support programs, educational institutions, training opportunities, and work-based experiences to build skills and credentials that meet industry demand and prepare them for jobs and careers. In Colorado, a sector partnership is the vehicle for building industry-driven career pathway systems, providing a forum for productive and ongoing collaboration with industry and among workforce, education, training partners, and other community partners. In Colorado, the statewide career pathway system aligns career pathway programs and systems developed throughout high demand industries in each economic development region of the state.

What’s the difference between a career pathway system and a career pathway program?

A career pathway program offers a clear sequence of stackable credits and credentials, combined with support services, which enables students and job-seekers to secure industry-relevant skills, certifications, and credentials and advance to higher levels of education and employment in high demand occupations.  A career pathway system is made up of multiple career pathway programs that span educational institutions, workforce and support service partners. These programs are all oriented around a shared understanding of the needs of industry. Often times, tools like career pathway maps are used to talk with students and job seekers about how they can progress through education and training experiences to obtain employment that meets his or her goals.

How do I build a career pathway?

The CWDC released the Building Industry-Driven Career Pathway Systems in Colorado Step-by-Step Guide in the fall of 2016. This guide outlines a step-by-step approach to building industry-driven career pathway systems that align education and training programs with the needs of the regional economy to ensure that students and job seekers are prepared the right skills and experiences to get jobs in the driving sectors of their local economies.

This guide is designed for workforce boards, educational institutions, and employers seeking to build a career pathway system for their community.

Download the “Building Industry-Driven Career Pathway Systems in Colorado Step-by-Step Guide‘ here to get started today. 

How do I find a career pathway program?

Interested in exploring the in-demand career pathways in Colorado? Visit to learn about the top industries in the state and to explore career pathways that meet your interests.

Career Pathways Systems Building Initiatives

  • Information Technology (IT) – launched in 2016
  • Healthcare – launched in 2017
  • Construction – launched in 2017
  • Business Operations – to launch 2018
  • Cybersecurity – to launch 2018