By Candace Bensel
Attendance at career colleges and schools or proprietary schools makes up approximately ten percent of the higher education population at any given time. These schools are generally considerably smaller, sometimes with an entire campus population smaller than a freshman seminar class at a traditional, liberal arts institution. The average student age often reaches mid-thirties, with students balancing the attainment of their career goals with busy work and family lives.
Why It Matters
With only ten percent of the population attending a career college, why is it important to be educated about what these schools have to offer? While the overall student population is smaller at career colleges and schools, these schools play a significant role meeting the demands of our local workforce, particularly in allied health.
These schools offer shorter term programs for students with busy lifestyles, therefore the curriculum is streamlined to focus on skills development directly applicable to the careers students are being prepared to begin upon completion of their programs.
Existing Workforce Needs
Serving older students who are established in their communities also means preparing them for workforce needs that already exist in that community and ensuring students have the skills those employers are seeking. Career colleges and schools meet regularly with practitioners in the medical field to gather feedback on curriculum.
Students have externships built into their program where communication between employer, student and the school is ongoing throughout the process. The majority of the allied health faculty members at these schools are adjunct faculty currently working in the medical field as well.
Schools are also held accountable for high, in-field placement rates, ensuring their students are not only well prepared, but that the school is continually assessing the local workforce needs in these fields of study.
Despite smaller overall populations, these institutions are making a positive impact on the healthcare industry across the Commonwealth. With a growing aging population and pending or recent retirement among the baby-boomer population, we have needs in this industry that must be addressed.
-Candace Bensel is the executive director for the Kentucky Association of Career Colleges and Schools (KACCS).