The number of adults who lack skills beyond a high school diploma is a significant national concern. In Kansas alone, there are over 700,000 working-age adults (ages 25-64) with no meaningful postsecondary credential.
With significant concern of this trend continuing, more and more Kansas jobs are requiring workers with some form of postsecondary credential. Magnified by the difficulty faced by employers across the state, struggling to find qualified workers who can fill skilled positions, Kansas community and technical colleges play a vital role in promoting economic prosperity for all Kansans through this successful program.
The Kansas Board of Regents, in partnership with the Kansas Department of Commerce, has implemented Accelerating Opportunity in Kansas (AO-K) to transform the delivery system for adult education in Kansas by delivering career and technical education at the same time as adult basic skills instruction within a career pathways framework. Students complete short-term certificate programs aligned with labor market needs, leading to industry-recognized credentials and immediate jobs.
|HANDOUT: Accelerating Opportunity: Kansas (AO-K) (January 2016) (pdf)|
Community and technical colleges across Kansas are implementing Accelerating Opportunity:
- Barton Community College
- Dodge City Community College
- Fort Scott Community College
- Garden City Community College
- Highland Community College
- Hutchinson Community College
- Independence Community College
- Johnson County Community College
- Kansas City Kansas Community College
- Labette Community College
- Manhattan Area Technical College
- Neosho Community College
- Salina Area Technical College
- Seward County Community College/Area Technical School
- Washburn Institute of Technology
- WSU Tech
Accelerating Opportunity: Kansas (AO-K) - Snapshot of Success
Accelerating Opportunity changes the way adult basic education is delivered by putting adult students on track to earn a postsecondary credential, seize the opportunity to earn family-sustaining wages, and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.
From 2012 to 2015, Kansas community and technical colleges enrolled over 3,000 students in 30 career pathway programs, earning over 3,000 industry-recognized credentials in areas such as healthcare, welding, manufacturing and aero-structures, with over 800 students self-reporting employment following completion.
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.
Kansas was a founding participant in this 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 has been implemented in seven other states: Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas.