The number of adults who lack skills beyond a high school diploma is a significant national concern. In Kansas alone, there are over 900,000 working-age adults with no meaningful postsecondary credential. The trend will only continue, and by 2020 it is projected that 60 percent of Kansas jobs will require workers with some form of postsecondary credentials. This magnifies the current difficulty employers across the state report in finding qualified workers who can fill skilled positions. Kansas community and technical colleges play a vital role in promoting economic prosperity for individuals and the state by delivering high-demand technical training.
The Kansas Board of Regents, in partnership with the Kansas Department of Commerce, is now implementing the Accelerating Opportunity initiative in Kansas (AO-K), transforming the delivery system for adult education in Kansas by using Career Pathways to deliver career and technical education simultaneously with adult basic skills instruction. Students complete short term certificate programs aligned with labor market needs, leading to industry endorsed credentials and immediate jobs. Kansas is part of a national initiative managed by Jobs for the Future and funded by six philanthropies – Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Open Society Foundations and the University of Phoenix Foundation. Kansas received $1.8 million for both design and implementation phases. In addition to Kansas, Accelerating Opportunity is also implemented in seven other states: Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas.
Accelerating Opportunity: Kansas (AO-K) - English (pdf)
Nine community and technical colleges here in Kansas are implementing Accelerating Opportunity:
Accelerating Opportunity changes the way adult basic education is delivered by putting adult students on track to earn a postsecondary credential so they can seize the opportunity to earn family sustaining wages and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Since January 2012, Kansas community and technical colleges have enrolled over 1400 students in over 27 career pathway programs. To date, these students have earned nearly 2300 industry recognized credentials in areas such as healthcare, welding, manufacturing and aero-structures. Over 790 students have completed a 12-credit hour pathway and 613 are employed. In July 2013, the Kansas Department for Children and Families partnered with the Kansas Board of Regents to begin offering a tuition scholarship program to support Kansans enrolled in AO-K career pathway programs who qualify to receive TANF (Temporary Aid for Needy Families) benefits.
For more information about this initiative, contact us.