Students completing career-technical programs have high employment rates, earnings
Students who earn career and technical awards from Iowa community colleges have higher rates of employment and higher earnings after program completion than other community college students who directly enter the workforce, according to an analysis of education, employment and wage patterns of Iowa community college graduates.
The report, developed in partnership with Iowa Workforce Development (IWD), follows five groups of community college graduates from academic years 2012-2016 and tracks them into further postsecondary education and the workforce.
“As the largest provider of postsecondary education in the state, Iowa’s community colleges not only provide an accessible and affordable option for students planning to transfer to four-year colleges and universities, they are key to developing Iowa’s talent pipeline,” said Jeremy Varner, Iowa Department of Education’s division administrator of community colleges and workforce preparation.
“Community colleges work closely with local business and industry to ensure career and technical education programs fill local skills gaps and target emerging industries, leading to rewarding careers with great earning potential,” Varner said.
The alignment of education, workforce and economic development efforts is key to the Future Ready Iowa initiative which calls for 70 percent of Iowans to have education or training beyond high school by 2025 to ensure Iowa’s workforce is equipped with the skills and education employers need.
Among the report’s findings, of the 89,880 students who completed short- and long-term awards between academic years 2012 and 2016:
- 85.7 percent who directly entered the workforce were employed within the first year of completing their programs.
- Those who earned associate of applied science degrees in high-need career and technical education fields in 2016 had higher rates of employment compared to all other degrees and certificates, and aggregate median wages ($36,101) are above the state’s 2016 per capita income of $30,047.
- Those who earned transfer-oriented associate of arts degrees in 2016 continued into further postsecondary education at high rates (73 percent); conversely, those who did not transfer into four-year programs experienced relatively weak labor market outcomes.
- Among those who graduated in 2016, the highest earnings in the first year after program completion were by students who earned associate of applied science degrees and were employed in health care and social assistance ($43,108), followed by manufacturing ($41,489).
- A strong majority of those completing programs remained in the state (83.6 percent) after graduation.
Future enhancements to the report will include an analysis of noncredit career and technical education program outcomes, which are designed to meet documented labor market demands.
Read the Education Outcomes: Certificate, Diploma and Associate Degree Programs report. In addition, an interactive dashboard and college-specific data tables and dashboards are available on the Iowa Department of Education’s website for each institution to support local planning and decision-making.