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New report shows popularity of trade programs, computer science, healthcare on rise among Kentucky college students

In Community, Education by OC Monitor Staff

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education today released the Degrees by Program report, which tracks five-year trends in undergraduate credential production by academic program. The report showed that undergraduate credentials in the trades, computer science, and healthcare are growing in the state.

“This report shows that there is interest among Kentucky students in credential and degree areas with a lot of demand and potential for growth,” said CPE President Aaron Thompson. “That bodes well for the economic future of the state. This report will help up identify programs where sustained growth or targeted improvement will be critical to reaching the state’s educational and economic development goals.”

According to the Kentucky Center for Statistics Future Skills Report, the biggest need areas requiring credentials for Kentucky are nursing assistants, registered nurses, heavy and tractor-trailer drivers, general and operations managers, medical assistants and elementary school teachers.

This inaugural report supplements the 2021-22 Degrees and Credentials Report. The 2021-22 Degrees and Credentials report highlighted several positive five-year trends in credential production. Over the past five years, total degrees and credentials awarded in Kentucky increased 16.6%. This impressive growth included a 30.8% increase in undergraduate credentials awarded to underrepresented minority students, an 18.8% increase in certificates and a 62.2% increase in graduate degrees. In recent years, Kentucky’s increase in degree production has ranked among the nation’s best.

At the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, trade programs such as welding, electrician and auto mechanic programs experienced the most growth, with credentials in computer science and health care also increasing significantly. Programs with the biggest declines included industrial mechanics and maintenance, business administration and management, child care, medical administration, drafting and design, graphic design and firefighting.

At four-year public universities, the biggest credential producers included programs in business administration and management, trade and industrial teacher education, healthcare, psychology, computer science, organizational leadership and homeland security. Programs with the biggest declines included English, biology, general studies, accounting and manufacturing technology.

Consistent with public institutions, programs in computer science, psychology, business and nursing experienced considerable growth at the private institutions over the last five years. Other popular programs included accounting, liberal studies and criminal justice. Programs with the biggest declines included English, mathematics, social work, sociology and allied health.

The report uses Classification of Instructional Programs codes, a taxonomy of academic programs developed by the U.S Department of Education. Programs that awarded at least 50 credentials in 2017-18 were included, and credential production was tracked to 2021-22, the most recent year of data available. For each sector, the top growing and declining programs are identified in terms of percent and numeric change.