Education and training beyond  high school is often seen as an essential component on the path to a good job. Evidence suggests higher levels of education are broadly associated with higher earnings. At the same time, a student’s return on their investment varies widely depending on program choice, the local labor market, structural barriers faced by historically marginalized groups, and other factors.

Despite their best efforts, too many of today’s college graduates struggle to find well-paying jobs in their field of choice, and employers struggle to fill entry-level positions.

This brief from the Urban Institute identifies a range of student-centered and market-aligned program design strategies to help students enrolled in short-term career and technical education programs get good jobs and careers. The strategies outlined are especially important for those who are low income or are underrepresented in higher education, including student-parents, those juggling work obligations, returning citizens, and others.

Through a review of the literature, the study focuses on three dimensions of program-level strategies to improve student outcomes: supporting career decisions and navigation, building skills for work, and connecting students to employment.

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