Empowering Learners and Building a Stronger Workforce, Fostering Economic Growth

Career Adaptability

Career Adaptability

Career adaptability is created through a system of pathways that connect employment opportunities and advancement. Gaining skills in decision making, planning, exploration, and confidence allows workers to master vocational transitions as they continue developing in their careers (Hirschi, 2009, pg. 3). Currently, the U.S. spends an estimated $400 billion a year on post-secondary education; however, there is a misalignment of post-secondary skills between schools and the workforce (Austin, Mellow, Rosin, Seltzer, 2012). Career adaptability would carry these skills to the workforce. 

Workers gain portable, stackable credentials through proper education and training. These credentials also allow workers’ qualifications to accumulate, are recognized across the country, and follow workers if they change locations. In the U.S., 51% of post-secondary programs take less than a year and 41% take between one and two years (Austin, Mellow, Rosin, Seltzer, 2012). Short training periods make career adaptability programs efficient, and once completed, students enter the job market at accelerated rates.   

By having educational programs and businesses work together to create pathways for workers, the gap between education and the workforce decreases. An easy, simple pathway helps people advance their skillset and seek higher-paying jobs. The increase of post-secondary graduates offers a ready and trained workforce. By having trained workers in local economies, the United States’ labor market becomes more competitive.  The national economy benefits through the partnership of government, businesses, and education programs (Albrecht, 2011, pg. 19).

Through career adaptability, lower-skilled workers, high school students, disconnected youth, and veterans can earn workforce-ready credentials. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, stackable credentials allow an individual to become more educated. Therefore, the individual strengthens the workforce, leading to a positive change in the entire economy (Ganzglass, 2014, pg. 2). 


Albrecht, B. (November/December 2011). Growing the Economy by Up-Skilling the American Worker. Techniques. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ964085.pdf 

Austin, J., Mellow, G., Rosin, M., and Seltzer, M. (November 28, 2012). Portable, Stackable Credentials: A New Education Model for Industry-Specific Career Pathways. McGraw-Hill Research Foundation. Retrieved from https://jfforg-prod-prime.s3.amazonaws.com/media/documents/Portable_Stackable_Credentials.pdf  

Ebenehi, A., Rashid, A., and Bakar A. (December 2016). Predictors of Career Adaptability Skill among Higher Education Students in Nigeria. International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training, 3 (3). Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1127728.pdf 

Ganzglass, E. (March 2014). Scaling “Stackable Credentials”: Implications for Implementation and Policy. Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED561777.pdf   

Hirschi, A. (2009). Career Adaptability Development in Adolescence: Multiple Predictors and Effect on Sense of Power and Life Satisfaction. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 74 (2). Retrieved from https://boris.unibe.ch/64670/1/Hirschi_Career%20%20adaptability_2009_unedited.pdf