Ashland, Ky. - The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) Board of Regents received an update on a number of innovative academic programs designed to align KCTCS curriculum with the needs of the states business and industry during its quarterly meeting today at Ashland Community and Technical College. The programs include the integration of soft skills education into the KCTCS curriculum and a Joint Associate-Bachelors (A2B) Nursing Career Pathway Program.

All KCTCS colleges are currently engaged in a curriculum infusion project to ensure all graduates of the systems 16 colleges acquire the necessary soft skills to succeed in the workplace. This project will include the incorporation of soft skill education into certain components of the curriculum. Soft skills are considered essential to being an effective employee and include the ability to work with others, communicate well, problem solve, arrive on time and dress appropriately.

KCTCS began work on the soft skills program earlier this year by conducting a survey among all members of the colleges Business and Industry Program Advisory Councils. These councils provide direction and consultation for all career-related programs. The results of the survey identified the top 12 soft skills needed for Kentucky employees. These skills include work ethic, communications skills, problem solving/reasoning/creativity, professionalism and integrity, teamwork,

flexibility/adaptability/managing multiple priorities, health and safety, planning/organizing, interpersonal abilities, leadership/management skills, analytical/research skills and technology as a tool.

Currently, all colleges are identifying what soft skills are part of the curriculum across their general education courses, what soft skills could be added, and how the skills are, or could be, assessed. A formal plan will be presented in December.

We have heard loud and clear from the business community that this is a critical need for all college graduates, said KCTCS Board of Regents Chair Marcia L. Roth. In addition to determining the best ways to incorporate soft skills into our curriculum, weve used this input as one of the goals in our new six-year strategic plan because it is such a priority for Kentuckys business community.

Another innovative program underway is the Joint A2B Nursing Career Pathway initiative that is a collaboration between the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, KCTCS, the Health Career Collaborative of Greater Louisville, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and a partnering university(s) to be determined. The goal of the initiative is to pilot a Nursing Career Pathway Program by August 2017 that would begin in high school, continue through community college, then to employment and completion of a university-based bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program. The collaboration is expected to:

Expand capacity and student success within the nursing education pipeline,

Establish a systematic structure to address existing gaps and deficiencies,

Increase completion of targeted certification, licensure and correlated academic programs,

Establish a seamless alignment of linked courses originating in high school, through community college, onto work and a university and

Model a best practice programs of study for other career initiatives.

The rationale for selecting nursing as the targeted career pathway is primarily because it is a high-wage, high-demand career. Statewide, registered nurses (RN) are the second most in-demand job in the commonwealth and the number one in-demand job in Louisville. The city employs over 15,220 RNs, positioning nursing as the fourth most common job in the Louisville region. With an average salary of $60,760, nursing is the highest paid of Louisvilles ten most common jobs, outpacing its closest competitor by $23,900.

In other action, the board:

  • Ratified ten certificate programs.
  • Approved 18,147 academic credential requests between April 12 and July 18, 2016 (associate degrees, diplomas and certificates). These credentials include:
    • 11,075 candidates for certificates,
    • 998 candidates for diplomas, and
    • 6,074 candidates for associate degrees.

The next meeting of the KCTCS Board of Regents will be December 1 - 2, 2016 at the Kentucky Community and Technical College in Versailles, Kentucky.