Education Dept. Designates $1 Million for Adult Learner Career Navigation

The $1 million 'Future Finder Challenge' aims to boost digital tools for adult learners looking to advance their careers.
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  • The $1 million Future Finder Challenge will seek prototypes of a career navigation tool for adult learners.
  • Adult learners currently lack a career navigation tool designed specifically for them, according to the Department of Education.
  • Education officials say such a tool would boost equity and cut back on career barriers that adult learners face.
  • Initial prototypes for the challenge are due in December.

Adult learners may soon have a new digital resource to help them find career opportunities.

The Future Finder Challenge, a $1 million initiative launched this month by the Department of Education, is inviting app developers, educators, and designers to submit prototype career navigation tools designed specifically for adult learners, according to a release.

Many current digital career navigation tools, or resources that help people choose and prepare for jobs and other career opportunities, aren't geared toward adult learners, according to the release.

Amy Loyd, assistant secretary for the Department of Education's Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, said newly developed career navigation tools would "expand equitable access to career opportunities — which will increase upward mobility and strengthen the broader American workforce."

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said career navigation tools geared toward adult learners would help reduce barriers they face when looking for jobs and other career opportunities.

"Too many working people have been unable to gain entry into today's fast-growing fields because our adult education programs have not kept up with the pace of technological change in our economy," Cardona said in the release.

“Many current digital career navigation tools, or resources that help people choose and prepare for jobs and other career opportunities, aren't geared toward adult learners, according to a Department of Education release”
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"To build a more equitable and inclusive economy, we must raise the bar for adult education in the United States and give learners of all ages the tools and opportunities they need to level up their skills and climb the economic ladder."

Cardona said the Future Finder Challenge "is about encouraging innovation and the creation of tools that help adult learners better navigate the workforce and take advantage of career opportunities in today's most in-demand fields."

Eligible participants include "teams of strategists, app developers, user-centered designers, and educators," according to the release. Prototypes as part of the challenge are due by 6 p.m. ET on Dec. 15. An online information session for people interested in the challenge is set for Oct. 13.

A panel of judges will recommend up to five finalists to receive $50,000 each and head on to the next stage of the challenge, which will take place between spring and fall of 2023, according to the release.

The judging panel for the second phase of the challenge will ultimately select a winner for a $500,000 grand prize and possibly two runners-up to receive "a share of at least $250,000."