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Advancing to a Middle-Skill Job: Moving Beyond the First Step on a Career Pathway

The Urban Institute hosted a panel discussion identifying the opportunities and challenges to supporting career advancement to middle-skill jobs. Recent government and philanthropic investments have focused on career pathways, frameworks for systems and programs to help low-income adults and youth reach middle-skill jobs. Yet, the emphasis of policy, practice, and research is often on succeeding in the first step on a career pathway, not on job and career advancement. That first step might only allow people to find an entry-level job with wages that cannot sustain a family. During this panel, policymakers, practitioners, and researchers explored how workers can move beyond this first step on a career pathway and into a middle-skill job.



  • Brenda Dann-Messier, Rhode Island Postsecondary Commissioner; former Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education, US Department of Education
  • Jaime Fall, Director, Upskill America, Aspen Institute
  • Harry Holzer, LaFarge S.J. Professor, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University
  • Yvonne Lau, Dean of Academic Affairs and Career Pathways, Instituto del Progreso Latino
  • Jennie Sparandara, Head of Workforce Strategy, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Margery Austin Turner, Senior Vice President for Program Planning and Management, Urban Institute
  • Demetra Nightingale, Institute Fellow, Urban Institute (moderator)


For inquiries regarding this event, please contact [email protected].

Support for this event is provided by JPMorgan Chase & Co. For more information on the Urban Institute’s funding principles, go to

Photo by Fizkes

Date & Time Thursday, October 11, 2018
Urban Institute 2100 M Street NW
5th floor
Washington , DC , 20037
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  • Institute Fellow
  • Institute Fellow