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CPE: Growing demand for college graduates in education jobs

By Sue Patrick

Kentucky's education workforce is expected to grow 3% over the next decade. However, colleges and universities need to train thousands of more teachers to address shortfalls in schools and help increase diversity among educators.

The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education unveiled those findings this week as part of an in-depth look at the state's public and private education sector. The report shows that, overall, the education field is on pace to support close to 93,300 jobs in Kentucky by 2030.

The state is already facing shortages in the education workforce, which includes teachers, administrators and counselors, and those gaps could potentially grow larger unless Kentucky produces more workers with degrees in education. The report projects that annual job openings will exceed the number of new graduates with at least a bachelor's degree in education by more than 2,200 jobs by the end of the decade.

CPE President Aaron Thompson said the numbers raise concerns at a time when Kentucky is seeking to transform education and raise attainment overall. Education leaders are focused on addressing these issues with efforts like the Commonwealth Education Continuum and the Kentucky Academy for Equity in Teaching, he said.

The continuum kicked off its work in January. The initiative is bringing together more than two dozen experts in Kentucky education to ease the transition points for students as they move from preschool to college and into careers. As part of that effort, the group is focused on strengthening and diversifying the teacher workforce.

Likewise, the Kentucky Academy for Equity in Teaching is seeking to recruit and retain a more diverse pool of educators around the state.

"Education is evolving at an incredible rate, and we've seen remarkable efforts to improve collaboration throughout the system, particularly when it comes to our teacher workforce," Thompson said. "Today's report provides invaluable guidance to colleges and universities on that front, and we must use this moment to realign our postsecondary programs to reflect the state's needs."

CPE partnered with the labor market analytics firm, Emsi, to produce the report. Analysts studied economic trends to determine if the number of graduates in the field of education is keeping pace with market demand.

According to projections, Kentucky's growth rate in the sector will trail the national average, which is on track to expand by 7% over the next decade. Job projections in Kentucky are also highly regional; much of the state's growth will occur in the central region, where the education sector is set to expand by more than 1,800 jobs.

The findings also indicate that Kentucky needs to increase diversity in the education workforce to better reflect the state's minority population. Around 13% of all Kentucky adults, 25 and older, are people of color, but college graduates with a degree in education are typically white females under the age of 35.

Only about 10% of new graduates in education are people of color, except in the region in and around Louisville, where the number grows to 17%. But that's still lower than the area's student population. In addition, only about 27% of graduates have ever received federal Pell Grant assistance, an indication of low income.

Elsewhere in the report, researchers found that while wages for education occupations in Kentucky have increased since 2010, they are losing ground with surrounding states. Around 61% of the alumni from Kentucky's education programs still stay in the state after graduation however, besting all other majors in Kentucky and the national average of 57%.

"The report shows some encouraging trends in a number of areas, but we have to remain deliberate about the challenges ahead," said David Mahan, associate vice president for data, research and advanced analytics at CPE. "We hope that every college and university in the state will incorporate this data into their decisions and use this research as an opportunity to strengthen the teacher pipeline."

The report can be accessed on the Council's website at educationreport.pdf.

This story was posted on 2021-03-09 08:16:41
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