« BACK TO INITIATIVES Statewide Initiative

Kentucky Colleges Prepare Students for 21st-Century Workforce

“Employers are telling us what they look for and need in their employees. This strategic initiative builds bridges from the classroom to the workplace to fulfill those needs, while adding significantly more value to the degrees our students earn by their ability to thrive in a rapidly changing workplace over the duration of their careers,” said CPE President Aaron Thompson. His Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), is partnering with us as part of a series of actions to strengthen Kentucky’s workforce.

EEQs play a vital role in workplace success, and ensure a job-seeker not only gets a job but stays gainfully employed. “The EEQ Certification will give students a way to choose a strong program, give graduates a way to communicate that they’re well prepared, and help employers find qualified career candidates,” said Wolff.


Postsecondary Institution Participation

Nineteen “early adopter” program have joined this Initiative so far.

    • The three campuses below are part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS)—the Commonwealth’s largest provider of higher education, online education, and workforce training. KCTCS prepares both students who want to transfer to a 4-year partner school and those who want to earn credentials and go to work quickly.
      • Bluegrass Community & Technical College (Lexington)
      • Gateway Community & Technical College (Edgewood)
      • Jefferson Community & Technical College (Louisville)
    • Frankfort-based Kentucky State University builds on its legacy of achievement as a historically black, liberal arts, and 1890 Land Grant University to prepare a diverse population of traditional and non-traditional students to compete in a multi-faceted, ever-changing global society.
    • Murray State University offers high-quality associate, baccalaureate, master’s, specialist, and doctorate degrees. It comprises student-centered learning and educational experiences that include first-year experience, the Honors College, internships, study-abroad programs, service learning, research and creative projects, residential colleges, and student organizations.
    • University of Kentucky has colleges of agriculture, engineering, medicine, and pharmacy on one campus, leading to innovative undergraduate education and research. More than 30,000 students choose from over 200 majors and degree programs across 17 colleges.

The Process

Institutions across the state will each assess 3 or 4 degree programs—aligned with key industry/business sectors in Kentucky—against 14 certification criteria to determine how well they support student employability.

After this first round of programs completes the initiative, the CPE plans to expand the certification process to a broader range of programs.

“Colleges of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System are looking forward to participating in this rigorous process to ensure student effectiveness skills and program competencies meet employer demand for skilled graduates,” said KCTCS Chancellor Kris Williams, the system’s chief academic officer.


Employer Participation (The Stakeholder Advisory Committee)

The CPE has identified employers in five key industry sectors that will be invited to contribute up-to-the-minute commercial perspectives on employability as well as build or strengthen strategic partnerships with institutions:

      • Construction
      • Manufacturing
      • Health care
      • Logistics
      • Business services/technology

Employers benefit from having employees with certified soft skills via:

      • Reduced turnover
      • Improved productivity
      • Optimized on-the-job training

“Work as we know it is changing, so it’s increasingly challenging—and important—to ensure higher education experiences appropriately prepare graduates for the 21st century,” said Ralph Wolff.

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