I would argue that it is possible to empower people in a variety of ways. Education can be one of them, particularly if it is relevant and connected to an interest or career that the student really wants to pursue. Right now there is a broad gap between education and what is really needed in the "real world" but we still require degrees for many jobs so the connection isn't always clear but even so, people often feel empowered if they have a bachelor's degree or even a high school diploma because it signifies their willingness to work and complete things.
Another way to empower people is to provide meaningful work that is rewarding in more ways than just the salary. People who build houses or take care of the land are often rewarded by feelings of satisfaction at a job well done but those feelings can be more difficult to find in other jobs like working in a fast food restaurant or something similar.