A case for career colleges


By Candace Bensel

Each day, we have thousands of choices to make. With the speed our lives are moving, we act on our gut instinct and correct course later if we were wrong. The great news is, in many of these decisions, we do have the option to correct the course.

While the choice between pumpkin spice and mocha chai doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, we often apply these tactics to bigger decisions, such as what we want to do for the rest of our lives. We make decisions based on limited knowledge and often listen to the encouragement of others, assuming they have based their recommendation on comprehensive research.

On Second Thought

The Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center recently published their update on Kentucky’s Workforce Progress and Challenges. In the report, they reference a June 2017 Strada-Gallup Education Consumer Survey and their corresponding article, “On Second Thought: U.S. Adults Reflect on Their Education Decisions.” The survey, based on interviews with 89,492 adults, found that more than half of Americans (51 percent) would change at least one of their education decisions if they had it to do over again.

How did you choose your career or educational path? While some make decisions based on extensive research, personality assessments, job shadowing experiences and more, others choose a college based on their favorite sports team and choose their careers because of what they’re qualified for after taking the college classes that best fit their schedule.

It is reported that by 2020, an estimated 65 percent of all jobs will require some post-secondary and education training beyond high school. According to the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center’s January 2018 publication, 84 percent of Kentucky employers today cannot find qualified workers.

Post-secondary education is important for many, students need to make informed decisions so they don’t regret their higher education choice down the road. How are students choosing their educational path? Are they educated about the workforce demand and the available employment options?

More Than Nursing

If you ask the typical non-healthcare worker (assuming they aren’t closely related to someone in the field) about what careers are available in the healthcare industry, they’re probably able to identify a dozen or so career options. Students may gravitate toward these jobs if they haven’t done extensive research into options available. What truly fits their interests and skill sets, and what the workforce demand in the field is, may not be part of the consideration.

While careers in healthcare tend to be in high demand (taking up eleven of the top twenty fastest growing occupation spots according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), students likely want to choose the field that is not only in high demand, but also that suits their interests. Students need to investigate the schools that will best prepare them for that career.

Career Colleges

Career colleges and schools make up about 10 percent of the higher education landscape. As a result, they are a lesser known and investigated option for higher education, but they are offering hands-on training for high demand careers, many of which happen to be in the healthcare industry.

The same report that shows most of our population is dissatisfied with their higher education choices also indicates that, “Individuals who complete a vocational, trade or technical program are more positive about their education decisions than are individuals with an associate or bachelor’s degree.” While many career options will require an associate or bachelor’s degree, there are also many that do not, which can be investigated at local career colleges.

From preventative to post-care career options, to administrative, to the hands-on positions in the medical field, opportunities in healthcare are thriving. Kentucky has numerous career college options across the Commonwealth offering hands-on career training programs in areas including medical assisting, physician assisting, massage therapy, medical coding, phlebotomy, medical radiography, nursing, health information management, medical laboratory technology, surgical technology, emergency medical services, sonography and much more.

If you are part of the 51 percent who regret the initial decision you made as you sought your career choice, or if you know someone currently investigating higher education and career options, or if you’re ready to advance your career, investigate these great options.

-Candace Bensel is the executive director of the Kentucky Association of Career Colleges and Schools (KACCS).