College costs and persistent workforce shortages have prompted educators, policymakers, and employers to shift the conversation on the transition from high school from a narrow “college for all” emphasis to a broader “postsecondary education” and “career pathways” perspective. The timing of this shift coincides with current and anticipated workforce needs; by 2032, New Hampshire will have 197,000 positions available across its top 80 occupations, with labor force growth projected to fill only 6,100 of those jobs.

Some commentators argue that broadening options to include career and technical education, certificates, and 2-year degrees is essential for realizing equity gains. Successfully building such pathways cannot be accomplished by educational institutions alone; it requires collaboration across public, nonprofit, and private sectors, as well as financial and policy incentives that reduce barriers and risks.

In this paper, author Jayson Seaman describes an innovative effort to address these challenges in New Hampshire, focusing on programs following a “hyperlocal” approach to career pathway development that simultaneously address specific, local industry, community, and individual needs. Their purpose is to increase the likelihood of social mobility by using career exposure and hands-on involvement to spur interest and motivation toward additional education and training in promising fields. The research reported here focused on programs that target youth approaching the secondary-postsecondary transition.

The study’s main findings show what it takes for career pathway sites to realize effective collaboration among partners and provide learners with a positive experience. The paper concludes with a discussion about areas of ongoing need both within and outside of individual pathway programs.


Carsey School of Public Policy; New Hampshire Youth Retention Initiative

Publication Date

Winter 1-11-2024

Document Type



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