Career Navigators in Adult Education

Career Navigators in Adult Education

What Experts Say About Their Role and How to Support Their Success
Published: Mar 28, 2023
Publisher: Mathematica
Key Findings
  • Career navigators are expected to provide a wide variety of services, including career planning, exploration, and counseling; educational planning; support to navigate systems; learner skill building; and job placement.
  • Key competencies needed by career navigators include knowledge of the adult learner population and skills for working with learners, knowledge of available career pathways and skills to help learners make informed decisions, knowledge of learner skills that can lead to success and skills to support learners’ skill building, and knowledge of learner skills that can lead to success and skills to support learners’ skill building.
  • Many adult education programs have or are hiring career navigators, and some evidence suggests these career navigators come with diverse backgrounds and experiences.
  • Practitioners may want to consider trainings and other professional development activities to build the knowledge and skills that navigators need to perform key activities and support adult learner success.

Federal adult education strives to equip adults with the basic skills needed for employment and economic self-sufficiency and to assist them with transitioning to further education and training. One strategy that adult education programs use in service of these goals is employing career navigators to guide and support learners in their career and college planning. Career navigators are full- or part-time staff who provide informational services to help learners explore careers and identify needed skills and education for those careers.

The information presented in this brief comes from exploratory research activities designed to understand the role of career navigators; the competencies they need to be successful; and considerations for hiring, supporting, and training them. This brief can be used by adult education practitioners to define job responsibilities and design hiring criteria for career navigators, make decisions about how to support career navigators, and identify trainings that support the development of career navigator competencies.

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