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Workforce Readiness

Kentucky Community & Technical College System Closing the Gap Between Education and Work

The Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KCTCS) has launched a year-long effort to revamp its educational model and better provide students with the skills and knowledge they need for the workforce. The project, dubbed "ALIGN," will reexamine the system's general education, technical and workforce solutions programs, with input from faculty and staff from all 16 KCTCS institutions, the KCTCS system office, students, employer and industry partners, government agencies and other constituents. Its goal: "to create a community that provides support and services for each student to help them succeed while also providing them the flexibility to ensure they can pursue education and complete a program."

"Our approach to delivering postsecondary education must keep up with the demands of employers and learners. This is about taking bold steps to help learners translate educational experiences into economic opportunity," said KCTCS interim President Paul Czarapata, in a statement. "This must become the norm if we are to make good on our promise of delivering truly career-focused programs that help all Kentuckians build the knowledge and skills they need in a timeframe and at a cost they can afford."

Planning and design support for the project will come from the Competency-Based Education Network, a membership organization of colleges and universities devoted to developing and scaling competency-based education programs. The competency-based model allows students to earn credit for the knowledge and skills they have and move through their learning at their own pace.

When the planning process is complete, KCTCS will share its experiences in a field guide on creating an education model that is better aligned with business needs.

Funding for ALIGN comes from Ascendium Education Group, a nonprofit focused on post-secondary education and workforce training opportunities for low-income learners. "The pandemic is exposing and widening the gaps learners face as they seek to transition between education and work," commented Amy Kerwin, Ascendium's vice president of education philanthropy. "An education model that focuses on knowledge, rather than time, as a measurement could play a critical role in closing those gaps."

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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