Career Pathways Initiative Launched in Garrett County

A national workforce development strategy, Career Pathways, was recently introduced in Garrett County at a meeting coordinated by the Continuing Education and Workforce Development (CEWD) Division of Garrett College.

The concepts and goals for the Garrett County career pathways initiative were developed under the auspices of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulations (DLLR). The plan is geared to draw together key members in local education, social services, economic development, and business.

Julie Yoder, Dean of CEWD at Garrett College, facilitated the kick-off meeting for Garrett Career Pathways. “This introductory session was designed to foster discussion, in a broad sense, the roles and responsibilities of the workforce system, economic development system, education system, human services system, community based organizations, and employers in the implementation and successful operation of a Career Pathways system,” she explained.

Key to the planning progressing, Yoder said, was a basic understanding of career pathway system which provides a clear sequence of education coursework or training credentials and that engages key cross-agency partners designing, piloting, launching, and growing a plan that implements a shared vision.

Yoder outlined six elements basic to constructing a Career Pathway: building cross-agency partnerships and clarifying roles; identifying sectors or industries and engaging employers; designing education and training programs; identifying funding needs and sources; aligning policies and programs; and measuring change and performance. “This is not a new concept, but a new approach,” she pointed out.

The 28 meeting participants gathered in small groups to discuss the process for building cross-agency partnerships and clarifying roles. Paul Edwards, Director of Secondary Education for Garrett County Public Schools, attended the Career Pathways meeting and found said he found it to be very it to be very worthwhile.  “From an educational standpoint, being able to get all stakeholders together to see how we can all help each other meet our objectives is invaluable.  As long as we are able to move forward with the recommendations from the group and act on good ideas, this will be a great initiative.  There are some great people involved, so I have high hopes for the project,” he said. 

Scott Hollingsworth, Director of Vocational Programs for Appalachian Crossroads, was also involved in the kick-off meeting. “I was excited to participate in the process. It is good to see these separate entities aligning their thinking to develop a cohesive Career Pathway model that is pertinent to the tri-state area and sufficiently flexible to adapt to a changing environment. As Julie pointed out, creating career pathways isn’t a new concept but it is a refocus on the process. There was a lot of energy among the people at the meeting,” he said.

Duane Yoder, President of Garrett County Community Action, was also among the community leaders at the meeting and referred it as a huge step forward. “Implementing an effective career pathway initiative in Garrett County puts in a missing piece critical for deploying a strategy necessary to empower persons in Garrett County to achieve long term economic security.   I believe the pathway work being done by the College will advance the efforts of our economic development and education systems.  It will certainly enhance Community Action’s endeavors to provide pathways to economic self-sufficiency and an improved quality of life for low and moderate income persons,” he said.  

Future meetings on the Garrett County Career Pathways initiative are currently being planned. Anyone interested in learning more about the process may contact Julie Yoder at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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