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Unlocking Economic Prosperity: Career Navigation in a Time of Rapid Change

The Project on Workforce

December 1, 2023

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New research from the Project on Workforce and the National Fund for Workforce Solutions sets an evidence-based, field-informed agenda for a 21st century career navigation ecosystem.

Pathways to economic opportunity are broken in the United States, disproportionately affecting Black, Latinx, and Indigenous individuals and those from low-income backgrounds. Disrupting long-standing occupational segregation and improving outcomes for all will require a system of career navigation that gives all individuals economic agency and opportunity.

Unlocking Economic Prosperity: Career Navigation in a Time of Rapid Change dissects the evidence and practice of career navigation and sets an agenda for a more equitable career navigation ecosystem. Based on an extensive literature review and consultation with experts and frontline workers, we identify the drivers of career navigation success and lay out core design principles and recommendations for the future.

At a time of rapid technological transformation, policymakers, employers, educators, intermediaries, and philanthropies must collaborate to build a system of supports and pathways that provide all individuals with the information, skills, social capital, resources, and social structures they need to advance.

About Career Navigation Applied Research

The Project on Workforce at Harvard and the National Fund for Workforce Solutions collaborated to conduct applied research that included convening focus groups, interviewing subject matter experts, conducting a scan of the National Fund network, hosting feedback sessions, and facilitating a roundtable discussion. Unlocking Economic Prosperity: Career Navigation in a Time of Rapid Change is informed by this approach, and draws on the perspectives of over 60 individuals from education, workforce development, research, and frontline work.

About the Project on Workforce at Harvard

The Project on Workforce is an interdisciplinary, collaborative project between the Harvard Kennedy School’s Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, the Harvard Business School Managing the Future of Work Project, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The Project produces and catalyzes basic and applied research at the intersection of education and labor markets for leaders in business, education, and policy. The Project’s research aims to help shape a postsecondary system of the future that creates more and better pathways to economic mobility and forges smoother transitions between education and careers. Learn more at